Believe it or not, Friedrich Nietzsche seems to have some wisdom to share on this issue of life purpose. Here I will borrow from his parable on The Three Metamorphoses in Thus Spake Zarathustra.
Zarathustra shares that in the first part of our human journey we are camels, loaded up will all the rules, mores, expectations, and beliefs handed us by society, family, our schools, and our churches. We heave off into the desert of our existence, laden with weights, which constrain us while keeping us safe in our knowing that we fit into the natural order of things. We know the rules, we follow them, and everyone breathes a little easier knowing you won’t be disturbing the status quo.
You won’t be the son from the long line of physicians who will decide in his third year of college that what he really wants to be is a ballet dancer, or the daughter of the first female partner in a prestigious law firm who wants to be a stay at home mom. Yep. Safe, predictable, and content, chewing your cud under a palm tree. Right?
And yet, you might notice your body saying something different. You may see it in the Tums you eat, the Prozac you take, the occasional episode of road rage, or the number of hours you zone out in front of the TV — there is trouble in the Kasbah.
While safe, secure, and predictable, the camel is no longer vital, energized, and passionate. In those moments the camel might be heard to ask, “Why am I really here?” You may find yourself humming along with Peggy Lee, “Is that all there is, my friend?” The question starts to emerge “What is my purpose?”
Before you think this is an easy matter of dumping the load and frolicking on to the next oasis take heed, a metamorphosis is in order.
Then I’ll become a lion!
Why a lion? Because the lion is the only one strong and courageous enough to slay the mighty dragon, “Thou Shalt.” All those packs you were carrying formed this dragon, fierce and brilliant with golden scales upon each of which is written “thou shalt.”
The lion must slay this dragon. Thou shalt climb the corporate ladder and buy a bigger house. Thou shalt never waste time. Thou shalt not play until all your work is done. Thou shalt not disturb the peace in the family. Thou shalt learn politics and how to play them well. Thou shalt not sport gray hair and reveal your age. Thou shalt not partake of non-Atkins approved foods. (Feel free to insert your own here.!)