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….”


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.  (You can get his full story by CLICKING HERE.)

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.


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….)


‘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.

I can…

I can…

I can…


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:

Sit still.

Dig deep.

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]

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8 thoughts on “A QUESTION OR TWO

  1. 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

    1. 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!

  2. 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.

    1. Good on ya, Owain! Thanks for the visit and the comments. Please come again!

  3. 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.

    1. Hey Jonah:

      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!

  4. Great questions.

    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.

    1. Hey Indasa: Thanks for your visit and your comments. I do hear what you are saying. Please do come again!

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