• It’s never too late to be who you might have been.George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans), English Writer (1819-1880)

Just who are we then?

Many people believe that we each have a special essence, perhaps part of our physical bodies, perhaps almost independent of them, that is the spark plug in the engine of who we are.

Christians and adherents of other religions call it the ‘soul’. Eastern and Western Theosophical adherents speak of subtle bodies within or around us like the astral body or the etheric body. New Agers talk about the triangle of Body, Mind, and Spirit.

Even those who see nothing in humans except a biomechanical entity cannot seem to explain the subtle complexities of each person’s mind solely through the physics and chemistry of the interaction of neurons and peptides in the brain.

There seems to be a ghost in the machine that science cannot yet adequately describe. Is this the essence of ourselves, the ‘Higher Self’, the Soul’?

And is it connected somehow to a wider channel of energy, a ‘Force’, a ‘Unified Field’ as postulated by Einstein (and also Maharishi)? Is it immortal, surviving death?

And is it a blueprint of the highest and noblest and most evolved version of ourselves that we are capable of becoming?

I would like to think, even if this were not true, and even if it were proven not to be true, that it is still a good, noble and desirable goal and practice to act as if it were.

To be or not to be?

Many people grow up with a sense of destiny, that they are meant to have a particular purpose in life. They may be attracted to a particular profession, or suddenly find themselves in a situation that they realise is the one they seem to have been waiting for all their lives.

There are also some lucky people who know from a very early age what they want to do with their lives and set out single-mindedly to achieve just that. And then love every minute of it.

Others muddle through, never really finding what makes them whole.

There is a rather mystical school of thought that holds that we choose the general path of our lives before we are born, and that the varied experiences of our lives, both positive and negative, are ways that we fulfil the potential with which we are born.

Exponents of this theory range from those who believe destiny is almost set in stone to those who believe that free choice and random chance can change the cosmic plan radically, even completely. (Or is that what destiny decreed was supposed to happen in the first place?)

We can easily deviate from our path, or lose it completely. We can find our way back onto it, perhaps in a different but related way. It is interesting that people who feel this has happened often feel as if they are still doing basically what they were meant to be doing.

There are certainly many opportunities out there today to try to work out what would most fulfil you in life. This does not necessarily mean looking for it in a metaphysical sense.

Very sensible, practical advice is given by Dr Susan Biali in her post “6 Keys to Finding Your Purpose” in the online magazine Psychology Today

A few sessions with a Career Temperament Counsellor (as opposed to a Career Guidance Counsellor) can work wonders for helping you work out what you’d like to be doing. There are a number of online tests you can do, some of which are free, some of which have a nominal fee. You can also pay several hundred dollars to do a battery of tests with a Career Psychologist.

Midway between practical and metaphysical, Personal Development blogger Steve Pavlina offers two techniques for closer defining what’s important to you on two of his posts.

But if you’re looking at the issue more metaphysically you might try prayer, meditation or, if you’re that way inclined, even a good astrologer. (You might be pleasantly surprised at what they come up with.)

Google it: there are a huge number of possibilities and somewhere there you’ll find something to help.

But be mindful of one thing. Most people who do believe they have found a particular purpose for their life have taken many years to get to that point. It’s a process of discovery that only you can do, and you will only make the discovery when you are ready for the answer. That may actually take a lifetime.

Finally, whatever you’ve tried in the past, whether it has worked or been a disaster, whether you have succeeded or failed miserably, whether you are proud of what you did, or deeply ashamed – it is never too late to start again. If society is intolerant of you, and doesn’t believe you can do it, that’s society’s problem. Show them and have the satisfaction of proving them wrong! But make it something that your soul or higher self can be proud of.

Ultimately, it would be nice to get to the end of your life, and be able to say honestly in whatever forum you believe you will face, “I did the best I could and generally I’m pretty happy with what I made of my life.”

  • Treat people as if they were what they ought to be and you help them to become what they are capable of being. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, German writer (1749-1832)