“For a purpose to effectively be a purpose… it must be defined, and it finds its definition in its result. That is where it is first called a purpose, because this is its purpose. It looks as though the active or effective element arose spontaneously, but this is an appearance caused by the fact that it is in its result. If it is separated from its result, though, it promptly dissipates.”
– Emanuel Swedenborg
I’m staring at Chapter One.
Every sentence, I cringe. 100 things are just not right with it. But I can’t see. I can’t see what’s the fix. I can’t.
I give up, and for the third time, I reach out to a friend. See if she can help me with some feedback, because I need someone else to help me realize my dream.
I can no longer do it on my own.
I enter the gym. It’s been years since I’ve had a membership to one of these things. I feel fat. I feel like everyone is looking at me and knows that I don’t know what the frak I’m doing. I see men and women with perfect bodies, with what appears to be designer gym clothes that stick to their chiseled bodies like a second skin.
I get on the treadmill. (For years, I’ve been running around my neighborhood, but I thought that a treadmill would be a nice change of pace.) I turn on my iPhone, play my music, and start the treadmill. I run for several minutes and work up a sweat. I start thinking. Sometimes I think about stress from work. Sometimes I think about how lonely I am. But sometimes I also think about the joy I get from work, and I think about how blessed I am to have such loving friends and family.
My mind wanders… I move to change the song that’s currently playing on my iPhone, but I inadvertently tug at my headphones and they get detached. The iPhone drops. Panicked, I reach down to save the phone, forgetting I’m on a fast-moving treadmill. In the next second, I trip, fall, and get shot back into the adjacent wall.
Humiliated and embarrassed, I get back up.
The woman running next to me asks, worriedly: “Are you okay?”
I laugh it off.
“I’m fine,” I say.
I quickly get back on the treadmill and start again. Hoping no one noticed. But I’m sure they did.
I’m sitting in the middle of my bedroom. I have a trashcan, a lighter, several pieces of paper, a journal, and a book that I’ve left opened. The book is about relationships and its supposed to teach me how to find my soul mate. I’m not so sure if I believe it will work for me, but I try it anyway. (Trying it out won’t hurt, will it?)
The book tells me to perform a ritual. The ritual is a convoluted one: 1. Recover the past. 2. Make it right in the present. 3. Set a clear intention for the future.
I take out the piece of paper that I’ve written on, I place the lighter next to it, and the paper begins to flame. Past, present and future turn into one–one light. Like a child whose seen fire only for the first time, I’m mesmerized by it. How it can move so fast and consume so much and turn it all into ashes so quickly.
As the fire grows, I realize that I’ve forgotten to lay out some water to put out the flame. Panicked, I throw the flaming paper into the wastebasket. But this is a mistake. You see: I also forgot to clean out my trashcan before I started performing this ritual. The flaming paper now falls onto the trash left inside the wastebasket–and that trash catches on fire too.
Before I know it, a legitimate bonfire emerges in the middle of my bedroom.
I quickly sweep up the flaming trashcan and rush to my bathroom. I drop the wastebasket onto my bathroom sink and try to drown the flames with the water from the faucet. But the faucet isn’t enough to drown out the flames and the flame grows again. In chaos, I rush to find a bucket. Once I find a bucket, I rush to my bathtub. I fill the bucket up with water, then I proceed to drown my sink with it. Water splashes everywhere: onto my clothes, the floor, the walls….
Finally, the fire goes out, leaving my wastebasket black and charred.
I take a deep breath.
I look around and notice the entire bathroom is filled with smoke. The ground is filthy with ash.
“Holy crap,” I think. “Did that just happen?”
The Law of Purpose
17th Century philosopher Emanuel Swedenborg believed that every human being on this planet had a purpose. But, unlike most people, Swedenborg believed that if you had a purpose, then the realization of this purpose was inevitable.
According to Swedenborg, if you have an urge to accomplish a dream–a burning desire to become an astronaut or a painter or an engineer or a acrobat–then that urge was undeniable proof that your dream was already realized, somewhere, out there, in the distant future. It had to be–Swedenborg asserted–because otherwise this urge would dissipate, and not exist.
If you make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich today, it’s because you set out to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich today. If you hadn’t set out to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich today, then that peanut butter and jelly sandwich would not exist.
But what may not be obvious is that the converse is also true: before you created this peanut butter and jelly sandwich, your urge to create that peanut butter and jelly sandwich was actually proof that that peanut butter and jelly sandwich already existed, in the distant future–even though you had not made it yet.
If you believe that each of us is driven by a purpose, then you also have to believe that each of us will witness the realization of that purpose one day. Because, if that were not the case, then we would cease to be driven by that purpose: our urges and passions, as mysterious as they were when they first came to us, would go away just as mysteriously, like a flash of fire.
Destiny can only be destiny if it has already happened. If it has not already happened, then we would have no urge to fulfill our destiny.
That’s a jarring statement, I know. But one cannot deny the brilliant logic of it.
Preparing For Flight
I am, for lack of a better word, at a transition period in my life. Something soft and invisible at my backside is growing restless, wants to break free, wants to shutter.
I’m afraid again, but this time I’m not afraid of rising, but of flying. You see, I thought getting “back on my feet” was the end of my story–not just the end of “part one” of my story.
I didn’t realize there was a second part to all this.
I didn’t realize that I would be trapped by The Law of Purpose:
Somehow I cannot escape my novel because it has already been published somewhere in the distant future. But I can’t work on it in the present, either, because what it’s currently missing escapes me, and can’t be unlocked except by some outer eye.
Somehow I can’t escape my running, because, somewhere, in the distant future, I’ve already run a marathon. But I can’t seem to get my legs straight, because what physical skill I lack escapes me, and can’t be unlocked except by some outer guidance.
Somehow I can’t escape my search for companionship, because somewhere in the distant future, I’ve already met the one and we’re already together. But I can’t be with my soulmate now because what is currently missing from the equation escapes me, and the secret can’t be unlocked except by some outer will.
Finally: I can’t escape my story because somewhere, in the near future, its conclusion has already been written. The dream is already realized, and it’s the realization of the dream that drives me to it, not the act of dreaming itself.
I am trapped by my purpose, trapped by this urge to fulfill it, trapped by a sort of destiny, I can’t explain.
I don’t know what will happen to me in Part Two of my story, but what I do know is that this new chapter will be less about me and more about us. Less about the multitude and more about the one. Less about addressing all the parts of you (and making yourself whole) and more about realizing that it’s all one part.
Less about getting up from the ground and more about getting up off the ground.
It appears the time has come for both you and I to prepare for flight.
Part II (and Chapter Five) of The C2C begins today.
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