A QUESTION OR TWO
Oh, here’s a biggie. I’ve been re-reading Po Bronson’s WHAT SHOULD I DO WITH MY LIFE?: The True Story of People Who Answered the Ultimate Question. Every time I do I find something. Bronson makes a case for the fact that “What should I do with my life?” is the modern, secular version of the great timeless questions about our identity, such as “Who am I?” and “Where do I belong?”
He says the “bottom-line reality” is that we can search for identity only so long without making ends meet. Being a “seeker” does seem to imply that you never FIND anything…otherwise, why would you keep on seeking? However, that isn’t the whole story.
Asking yourself “What should I do with my life?” is a step forward towards ending the conflict between who you are and what you do. Answering the question is a way to protect yourself from being ground up (or down) into someone you just are not.
It is not a question for the faint-hearted. It is not a question only for the young. It is one that has to be asked again and again as life progresses. It is an integral part, as Patrice Ouelet (the photographer whose image I am using in the header for this thing) , of that most human of quests, “…the quest for certainty to be confirmed, or to the opposite, the quest motivated by doubt.” Ouelet says about this quest, “There is no more powerful force in humans….”
PEOPLE WHO ASKED AND ANSWERED THE QUESTION….
For over two years, Po Bronson interviewed more than 900 people and turned those interviews into his book, WHAT SHOULD I DO WITH MY LIFE. Since it was published in 2002, it has been a source of inspiration for many people.
One of those people who were inspired by the book was professional photographer James Light. He began making short films on YouTube after reading Bronson’s book.
As “Gorilla Filmmaker Now,” Light made a series of YouTube films inspired by Po Bronson’s question. One episode was this one about author, presenter and columnist Natalie Fee.
Light gathered many of these stories of personal empowerment over time, between his YouTube offerings which have been seen by thousands of viewers, and his own professional work that focused on the efforts of groups working for change.
His endeavor has entered a new phase now. His latest work is a film called, “What’s Your Story?” To make it, he’s on a quest to collect the stories of people who have asked what he calls “the ultimate question.” He encourages people to start a conversation with him about their answers to the question and where it has taken them.
Light intends to share the stories he is gathering with the world, in the hope that using the power of story will allow us collectively to gain wisdom and perhaps to change the world. It is, I am thinking, a very good goal.
ANOTHER GOOD QUESTION
There’s a second good Bronson question which didn’t get as much air-time as the titular one. He tells us, “The right question is not, ‘What’s the Crap Factor?’ The right question is, ‘How can I find something that moves my heart, so that the inevitable crap storm is bearable?'”
This, too, is a good question to ponder….
Here’s a poem that’s on the way to an answer.
Aw, okay, I admit it…this one’s just a bit of whining on the way. (I figure the whining’s just as real and as human as the triumphal march….)
CAN I GET A REFUND?
‘Kay, fine den…FINE!
There are no shortcuts to wisdom,
No “beam-me-up-Scotty” trips
That will materialize me
Into self-awareness and self-knowledge.
I really tried that honey-dipped Seeker stuff,
The one where you wish yourself to bliss,
And dance around all joyous in the buff
And turn your face like a flower to the sun,
Ignoring all the pain and suffering in the world,
Because, hey…that’s Ne-ga-tive!
(Never mind if your heart turns into a raisin!)
I’m here to tell ya:
Cuter abysses do not mystically, magically appear,
And three-day spa-wilderness experiences
(Replete with trance drummers)
Make you feel marvelous,
But they don’t actually change anything.
It doesn’t work that way,
And I do so resent it.
And those strutting success-merchants?
I was being GOOD at things, ya know…
I was being most excellent at momentum,
Extraordinary at forward thrust.
I can climb up ladders like nobody’s business
And stay one step ahead of that
Gaping Void dogging my heels.
I can build those fairy castles all over the sky –
A whole subdivision, you bet.
Except that then I’m just this impossibly small package
All tied up tightly into myself –
Just a cute little ball of rubberbands,
Not even hiding a secret, wondrous core…
Just the me I agreed to be.
The wise guys say:
And let it all hang out.
I’ve got just one problem with that one.
I do not LIKE the practice messes.
False starts and flat-out blunders
Make me grind my teeth in consternation.
Why don’t I do it right?
What am I doing wrong?
I HATE be-bopping from pillar to post.
I detest the detours that wander
All over the landscape through
Misty bogs full of quicksand
And over mountains and lava fields
Just chock-a-block with deep fissures and tubes
That, if you fall down them, mean
You land broken in the dark.
I really think I want a refund.
There’s only one ticket to ride the rocket
To the me I’m supposed to be,
And the durned thing costs everything.
by Netta Kanoho
Picture credit: The Quest (la quête) by patrice-photographiste via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
SOME OTHER POSTS TO EXPLORE
(Click on each of the post titles below and see where it takes you….)
Thanks for your visit. I’d appreciate it if you’d drop a comment or note below.
30 thoughts on “A QUESTION OR TWO”
Loved reading your post today. Great stuff to ponder here and your poem at the end was perfect!
Why is it that so many of us cannot figure out what to do with our lives…(or who we are for that matter)? I’m mid-life and have only just begun this journey. But there’s something to be said about the creative place of not knowing. For me, the more still and simple I can be, the more the answer emerges. Thanks for your inspiration
Thanks for your visit and your comment, Jackie. It’s a truth, isn’t it? Getting still and simple is the key to the whole thing in this push-me-pull-you world. The not-knowing is such a large part of the Creative space and probably the price of admission. (Sigh!) Please come again!
Since growing up I have asked myself what do I want to do with my life. In school I loved computers but never followed this up as a profession. I fell into my job quite by accident, which incidentally has nothing to do with computers.
I am now following my passion of computers and my genealogy hobby, and creating a website where I help people research their family history. I am very happy with my life now and I am striving to make this a full time job.
This post did make me feel aware that I am on the right path and I am doing what I love.
Good on ya, Owain! Thanks for the visit and the comments. Please come again!
Who am I and What I do? Yes, this is a congruent question. But sometimes, what you do is not what you are because sometimes, we become afraid thinking that if we do what we want, we may not get other people’s approval and this in turn limits and oftentimes stops us from doing what we want.
That is always a hard one, isn’t it? The thing is, if it IS truly a thing you need and want to do, that causes no harm and may even help somebody else, then, having to wait for “approval” and having to ask for permission means that you are denying the world your own unique voice.
You were sent to this world for a reason, Jonah. That reason’s tied to the gift you’re carrying for the world. Who are these other people who you are allowing to stop you from unfolding your gift? Are they more important than the waiting world? Something to think on….
Thanks for the visit, Jonah…Please, come again!
I’m reminded of my senior year in high school when my vocal coach wanted to know why I hesitated on choosing a college or university. “Don’t you wanna go?” Was the question that stuck with me.
All I knew then was that I didn’t want to feel obligated to any place or thing. I prefered to be morivated to be there. To be content where I was regardless of the yuck that presented itself.
Fast forward to my twenty-something year high school reunion. (That same vocal coach is still livng…and one of the greatest inspirations of my life. I take the time to visit now and then) I find myself back at that feeling. Not wanting to be obligated to be where I am, or do what I do. But, instead to be motivated.
Cause honey, there’s a great many things I would love to get a refund on, but I wouldn’t have those experiences of feeling obligated to pull from.
Hey Indasa: Thanks for your visit and your comments. I do hear what you are saying. Please do come again!
Good question; I have put it to myself as many times as I have started another path in life; whatever path I have chosen, has led to my progress, but my purpose has not been learned; or can give, but do not yet recognize it; Who knows? just the good God
Thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts, Carmen. I do agree. It’d be a lot easier if we came already labeled with a purpose. (‘Course, then if it was stuck on my forehead, I would probably just stand there and argue….) Oh, well. Onward!
You’re right, you know. Trying to figure out your purpose through experimentation does open the doors to a lot of learning, it seems to me.
Please do come again.
Thanks for the great post Netta. It really made me think and I enjoyed the video a lot. I have never heard of Bronson’s book but it sounds like something that’s right up my alley. I love things like that. I have been asking this question to myself over and over for the last year or two and I am (slowly) starting to get a clear answer. Another book I have that sounds like it’s similar to Bronson’s is The Element by Ken Robinson. It’s all about finding your passion. The more things I have found that I am passionate about the better my life has become. Thanks again! Definitely going to share this with a few people I think that need to read it.
Thanks for the visit and for your thoughts, Dan. I am glad you enjoyed the post. Passions are marvelous ways to add richness to your life, I agree.
Please come again….
This is an interesting post, one that I have not seen yet on other sites and I saw that in a good way. It was refreshing and enjoyable to read and listen to. My own experience with self satisfaction has been an important one in my life. Positive mind-sets and attitudes make the world a better place in my opinion and I try to improve myself everyday. Having a hobby or something you enjoy doing makes your life more complete and fulfilling, whether it’s exercising and dieting to be more healthy, or gaming and watching shows to relax after a hard day. How do you relax after a particularly rough day?
Thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts, Paul Z. I’m glad you liked the post.
Mostly, when I’ve had a particularly rough day, I go take a nap. I’m pretty boring when I’m brain-dead.
Please do come again….
Hey Netta, I must say this is an eye opener for most of us who can not say anything about what we can do with our life. I cannot help but agree with everything that you have written but what give me much concern is that why is it so that we don’t know what to do? Sharing your blog on my social media will help many lives because its not a good thing not to know what to do.
Thank you for your time to think about this as it is a great article that will help many lives.
Thanks for the visit and your thoughts, boluwagg. I do appreciate it.
I’ve got a few friends who are totally sure of what they’re going to do with their lives, given the chance. They are marvelous at what they do. They aim themselves and go. I stand in awe of them.
The rest of us just bumble along, experimenting with this, that and the other. Maybe that’s good in a way. It means that we get to try a lot of things that (even if it isn’t the ONE thing we can do best) will help the people around us live better lives.
It also helps us figure out what is NOT for us. This is a valuable thing as well.
Please do come again.
Wow! This is a beautiful write up that is mind blowing!! What will I do with my life? This was a question that gave me sleepless night when I was in high school because I had passion to study medicine but after writing the entrance examination thrice for three good years and I failed all. My Dad called me and he advised me instead of wasting time trying medicine ,I should go for something related and guess what today am a graduate of MEDICAL CODER and I finished with first class.
Sometimes we just can tell what the future is but we should try as much as we can to do the right things and get expose to books,articles like this that can motivate us.
That’s awesome, Labulo! Thanks for the visit and for sharing your story. You’re right. You may have a general idea of your direction, but the doing is what helps you decide.
Please do come again….
“WHO AM I? And ” WHAT AM I DOING? OR WHERE AM I GOING? Every human in live in one way or the other have asked these questions to him/herself. Unfortunately many people couldn’t find the answer they are looking for.
Sometimes ago I ask myself those questions and and I got the answer through the Holy Christian Bible (Philipians4vs13]…”I can Do all things through Christ which strengthen me”. Many people need motivation from someone to move forward in life but to me every thing around you can be a motivation.
Good for you, Chris. Thanks for the visit and for sharing your story. I do appreciate it.
Please do come again.
I really enjoyed this article. I must not fail to mention that the concluding poem marked a scintillating epilogue. No lover of good poem would be disappointed.
If there is any question that a man must find the right answer to before death, it must be that which truly reveals his essence of living. Asking why this is so important? Simple! It clearly defines direction for life and enables making the most out of it. Such life would be well channelled for effectiveness and productivity.
Sincerely, purpose remains the brightest treasure that everyone must find.
Thanks for your visit and for sharing your thoughts, Toriola. Our time in the world is so much more rewarding when we are doing what we are meant to do….I agree.
I am pleased you enjoyed the post and the poem. Please do come again.
I just love. love your poems and your honesty is precious.
Your poem REMINDER TO ME… are the words I feel when I am doing Tai Chi. It just flows with awareness of everything inside.
I did purchase the book based on your review of the QUIET INFLUENCE
In the 80’s I followed Robert Bly, the Poet, in his men’s movement. He introduced me to hundreds of great poets- Rumi, Rilke, Keats, Blake, and more. I ate all those poems up for years, but never wrote one line of poetry. How can an engineer write like that especially one with poor grammar I would tell myself? However, I just signed up to take a poetry writing class using Haiku style on April the 11th.
I have booked marked your website and look forward to reading more. Thank you so much…
Yay, Ed! Good on ya! Thanks for the visit and for sharing your story. I am so very pleased that you’ve decided to try poetry writing. Haiku is always fun…and sometimes most surprising. I think you’ll like it.
Please keep coming by….
The most frequent question I always used to ask myself is… “Why am I born here?”. The reason I ask this question to myself is to find out the duty or the purpose of our life. I don’t know whether it is right or wrong.
So, today when I just drop into your article I found any information related to my question.
The really helpful and inspiring post you have shared. Thanks a lot for giving a chance to read this article.
Ranao, thanks for your visit and for your comments. I am so glad the post was helpful to you.
Please do come again….
Hello, really liked this reading. It is indeed a journey, more than a question, what should I do with my life.
I was at my first job, and after 2 years of it, where I’ve bought a new house, and had a crappy but long-time relationship, this question started to hit me. And I just let it. Do I want this? Am I happy? Now what? I was 28.
I’ve decided to go to Switzerland on an internship at CERN (the physicist european center where LHC is…) and left my whole life behind my back.
Later on I had a new boyfriend, no job, was not happy in Switzerland (apart from being with my boyfriend 🙂 ) and we came back to our homeland (Portugal).
I keep hitting this question and redefining myself.
It’s uncomfortable and you get out of your comfort zone too many times, but it’s not BAD. Do not be afraid of changing. Be very afraid of living the life you don’t want just because you are too afraid of the unknown. Life’s too short for too many regrets.
Sofia, thanks for the visit and for sharing your story and your thoughts. I LOVE your riff: “Do not be afraid of changing. Be very afraid of living the life you don’t want just because you are too afraid of the unknown.”
Too right, that!
Please do come again.
This has been a very interesting reflection and it will take me a bit of time to fully process it. I definitely try to follow my passions, but unfortunately, the passions don’t provide the most financial security.
It can be challenging to balance time between work and play, but ultimately, I try to find ways to enjoy both.
Thanks for the excellent, thought-provoking article and poem!
Yay! I am so glad when I can help people think more deeply! My favorite jones, that!
It does seem to be a given that very often the thing that most rings your chimes doesn’t help you keep the post those chimes are hanging on from falling over. (Sigh!)
The best I’ve been able to do is make sure that I keep making room for more and more chime-ringing stuff in my days as I run around keeping body-and-soul together. F’r real, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
If nothing else, I do have this tendency to smile a lot.
Please do come again.