Purpose and Meaning Part 2 – The Personal Aspects
The Financial Times published a piece, https://rethink.ft.com/?play=society&utm_source=ft&utm_medium=editorial_backfill , the sad slow demise of social connectedness and responsibilities.
The initial piece on purpose and meaning, https://medium.com/@crookpaulj/purpose-and-meaning-89a8de347c1d, tended to look at jobs, work and thence into posing questions for all of us on life choices. Far wider issues have appeared with feedback from the piece sponsoring some more use of the question mark? People suggested we must continue to investigate inside ourselves if we are to contribute for ourselves; and those around us. ‘And those around us’ is the poignant element noting the remarks of the FT on selfish society on the rise. Rising beyond the 80s greed, greed synonymous with the start of major changes in societies reinforced by technical developments of the next quarter century.
Family issues are paramount where, as the FT piece points, the next generations, not just in the UK but also in any number of settings, are now looking at how they balance social duty to their parents with their own demands. Accounts of people becoming full time carers abound alongside points of people into their own retirement, in their sixties and seventies, having to ensure care for their parents now in their nineties or even busy framing their message from the Monarch on celebrating one hundred years.
But, the but is there: is looking after your family purpose or meaning in your life?
Are there ways to rephrase this toning the temporal nature of parenthood, into adult family relations and on to role changes, as the child becomes the dominant one with the parent requiring guidance on living well? How does this work when we now regularly experience 3 if not 4 generations living, loving and loathing? Clearly health issues enter in to this as we experience longevity we also change the dynamics of what we need at different stages of life. My own Father never faltered when his age mate doctor checked if he was suffering from forms of dementia. But the possibility of days when he could not do his beloved gardening work saw him decide, inside himself, to move off this Mortal Coil. His raison d’etre, his meaning, left him and he left us.
Family certainly appears to bring meaning to many of us; especially when we can easily have those 4 generations around a garden table talking on times past, times future and the merits of Victoria sponge alongside Battenberg today.
Are we entitled to step away at a certain time in life, changing the meaning of our life from production to the promotion of talent in our family?
Yes, seems to be the natural answer, but how to do it and instil meaning beyond endless purpose of working for The Man, the mortgage and, now, increasingly, at home or in a home care?
Having recently talked about mentoring and coaching, the sense is the confusion, even in the most personal aspects of life, where people are offering ears to listen to those lost without meaning or purpose in work and life. The proviso was there as franchise operations were selling a formulaic approach and the questions seem more with regard to paying the licence than knowing whether ears were connected to a brain able to offer something beyond set-piece answers before asking for the fee for the session. This is apparent as we see a return to a friendly ear https://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2013/trauma_mental_health_20130806/en/ , https://www.bbc.com/news/health-22574973 and https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0b5szvz
But this is all response. Response as we lose meaning and focus more and more on the here and now of purpose. Surely life with meaning built around the social, culture and even economic elements of community is more empathetic and forestalls the need for response? We all have traumas befall us in different shapes and intensities; the sense we now have set-piece responses that are there to be applauded. But are they really better than having people around who understand how you are moving through life, sharing the meaning in what you are doing?
Is it not the meaning in life to nurture people as persons? As parents, siblings and friends, we offer guidance; offer assistance to shape how people decide their way forward. To have them be ready to look at the purposes they will fulfil but always look beyond the marketing hype setting (social?) pressures to have a house of this type, an income to have two holidays a year, children doing well so they can aspire. Aspire to what? Working for the Man, the mortgage and keeping you in your own dotage?
Working for the Man is now based on zero hours contracts and becomes a zero sum game when looking at how to get on the property ladder in many places. The UK is not alone with Millennial and X generation wondering how, or if, to store wealth.
But is it a meaning in life to become a full time carer when the person is changed to being a shell of their former personality? Memory gone, capability to offer input to their own, and others, meaning limited? Is there a quality of life when no longer able to discern the purpose of being let alone a greater set of meanings in life?
This goes beyond an ageist interpretation; we have settings where the meaning of life is being knocked from people who seem to have become simply statistics in appeals for humanitarian aid. How many generations of Palestinians eke out an existence in the Gaza Strip? Third, fourth and even fifth generation people in the refugee camps of East Africa often beyond wondering what their futures will be as purpose is dominated by the collecting of water to drink, cook and clean as best as able.
To us, our individual call to action:-
Meaning in life changes for all of us but it is a fundamental we need to visit.
Think about ourselves:-
How I am?
How I project myself to those around me?
How do others see, listen and experience me?
How I am in family, groups of friends or with those you feel can be empathetic to your own development of meaning beyond purpose?
This is about thinking I, myself, and then you in terms of looking back at one’s self.
Feeling you are finding, thence projecting, meaning from within yourself to others around you who you care for and their reciprocate.
Influencing the purposes one has by subsuming them into a greater good; the meaning of your life.
Developing true depth for yourself and those you care for and about.
Some harsh choices will emerge but when these are set within defining meaning rather than simply perpetuating purpose then:-
Reciprocity will be found with meaning