“For a star to be born, there is one thing that must happen: a gaseous nebula must collapse. So collapse. Crumble. This is not your destruction. This is your birth.” — Zoe Skylar (from https://healingbrave.com/blogs/all/phoenix-quotes-rise-after-your-world-falls-apart)
I recently read an op/ed by David Brooks of the New York Times entitled "The Moral Peril of Meritocracy." In his article, he talks of how people he has met in his life mirror an image of being on two mountains. The first mountain is one of pursuing dreams and ambitions, with the end goal being the end goal. The second mountain is the one that people embark upon when they realize that there is something bigger than themselves and their motivation changes from being self-centered success driven to being driven by a sense of purpose outside of ourselves.
The transformation occurs, not by conscious decision, but rather as either a reaction to a life altering event, or the internal feeling of "there has to be something more."
You can read the op/ed here.
I found this op/ed deeply motivational and introspective of my life. Early in my working days, the goals were always a moving target and always revolved around achieving something. Once achieved, and yet not all that satisfying, I found myself looking for the new goal, the new challenge, the new way to prove something in order to gain a sense of happiness.
Then Meniere's happened.
But it didn't steal that drive. In fact, it made me more focused on achieving and proving and goals.
Then Meniere's happened a second time, in my second ear.
Even this did not squelch the desire to prove myself completely. If I was to be seen as anything, I had to push myself through this miserable disease. I had to rise above. I...I...I.
While I do not consider myself to be narcissistic, we all have that inborn nature to look out for ourselves first. We want the attention, the glory, the acclamation. That's what we are taught. It's how we see the world. We want to be a star!
But a funny thing happens along the way. Things happen that make us realize that there is much more to this life than what we can cram into it. It's not about cramming at all. It's about giving ourselves away.
I will admit that for a significant amount of time prior to the collapse of my health, both physical and mental, due to Meniere's, I was struggling with my purpose. My passion was still for farming. It still is to a degree, but it seemed empty. Hollow victories followed by more hollow victories. There had to be something missing in my life. My fault was I didn't see what that purpose was, or maybe more so, how to find the real purpose.
Part of this may have been due to the work requirements of running a farm. 80 hour weeks were/are the norm when running a dairy farm. That leaves little time to pursue real purpose. The majority is more likely due to stubborn refusal to allow life to crumble. Yet, this is exactly what I needed to happen to find my purpose. It took hitting the lowest low I hope to ever endure to see the second mountain, the purpose, my rebirth.
Were it not for my crumbling in 2013, I would have never returned to Mayo Clinic. I would have never considered Cochlear Implants. I would have never found my purpose in giving support to countless people who share the bond of misery known as Meniere's disease.
And that exposes the real purpose of life. Giving. The cliche' is true that the more you give, the more you receive, yet its real benefit is not tangible. It's the fact that you become someone trusted to give, not for personal gain, but for the betterment of those around you.
In the summer of 2017, when finishing my requirements for my Associates degree, as part of the speech class I was required to take, during the speech we used to introduce ourselves to the class, there was so much giving. There was an amazing amount of self revelation from the entire class. I marveled at what others and overcome and humbled in that my story was insignificant in comparison, yet they all felt the same way concerning my story to them.
I was reluctant to allow myself to collapse. But because of a power greater than myself, I was forced to. And thus my rebirth began.
My past is my past. My present is reality. My future is uncertain. Yet, without being shown the second mountain, I would not be living a life for others. My work is no longer my passion. It is a means to an end. And that end is giving myself away to others as a support and knowledge mechanism.
I have yet to reach the summit of the second mountain, but the Phoenix is rising!
'til next time
Just a guy trying to live with an invisible, potentially debilitating illness