Defining Purpose

Note to you, my friends – this post contains some political opinions which may likely differ from yours.  I respect yours; thank you in advance for respecting mine.

Hi,

The night merged at some point with the morning, although I honestly can’t tell you at what point that happened.  Yet here we are, 5:00 AM – the Sirs walked and fed, the sun preparing for its entrance stage right, and somewhere behind the clouds, the moon is tiredly anticipating some rest.

I’m over-caffeinated, over-tired, and my thoughts are a muddled reflection of both.

I alternated between watching our election returns and watching ‘The Crown’ on Netflix.  Arguably one offset the disbelief that informed the other.  I despair of the choice the US has made.  It isn’t the despair associated with backing the losing candidate – one reaches a point in life where loss is not unfamiliar; rather something that winds its way around the soul, infusing it with a sense of dread, a shortening of breath that mimics a mild panic attack when one tries to determine what is going to happen next.  I am not going to offer you chapter and verse of my concerns and/or fears – they matter little in a forum which precludes dialogue.

My mom told us that following Kristalnacht, my grandfather went to synagogue with the belief that what was needed was more prayer.  Whether his assessment was right or wrong is not for any of us to say.  He lost brothers and sisters in the Holocaust, my mother bore the internal scars of a survivor with a burden on her teen-age shoulders that was unfairly weighted.  Yet, my grandfather, grandmother, mom and uncle made it here along with a few other relatives.  Was it faith that got them here?  Certainly, there were millions who perished who were equally righteous.  Serendipity?  Luck of the draw?  I have no idea.  I do know her reverence for this country, the way her eyes welled when she even mentioned Ellis Island – her belief that her life was to be lived for those who had not.  She was a complicated woman; she was a woman of valor.

Her perception of her purpose for being was fraught with ambivalence.  How the heck can an adolescent assume the responsibility for so many lost lives?  How does an adult fully actuate when she identifies herself with such a legacy?  Somehow it all got distilled into taking care of her family – and that was both a blessing and a burden, I think.

During one of the episodes of ‘The Crown’, the Queen Mum, still mourning the loss of her husband, her home (ok, Buckingham Palace isn’t exactly homey, but still…), reflects that these losses were deepened further by the loss of her purpose as a mother.  Her girls were grown, their paths understandably not reflective of any maternal need.  And so, she wonders what her purpose may be.

Switching back to the election results with tears spilling down my face…I’m identifying way too much.   Here I sit, in a temporary house with and without Andy (he’s still working in VA),  my sons fabulously grown, retired from a career which was defined by taking care of others and anticipating strategies for future success (within my purview).  What is my purpose now?  What is my place in a country in which I am not sure I am a part?  We have done such a powerful job of alienating each other, pouring vitriol as gas on a flame.  We have blamed and shaken fists, self-righteously proclaimed opinions with no regard for debate and conversation.  We have been disrespectful and judgmental, narrowing the width and breadth of love for humankind, replacing it with some weird sense of superiority.

So, before I devolve into Alice when she was carried along by her own river of tears, I demand to know what am I doing here?  What the hell is my purpose?  Here’s my short answer – I’m here to chart a path where I can make a small impact (let me tell you how challenging it is to try and volunteer anywhere – no, better save that for another day), I’m here to show that there is more to this world than self-important excuses and justifications for things that are just not justifiable.  I am here to love my family and small circle of friends to whatever degree they need that love.  I am here to breathe deeply and try to blunt some of the painfully sharp edges that reflect our current narrative.  One smile perhaps at a time, one genuine moment at a time.  I’m here to grow really, really, really old (I pray reverently) and take up my small space with unflinching love.  Even when I don’t see it.  Just means I have to look harder.  So world, I’m coming for you…after I take a nap.

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48 thoughts on “Defining Purpose

  1. Nicely put. Interestingly enough, I watched the results, while my wife watched “The Crown” on her laptop in another room in our temporary home.
    In an hor or so, the sun will rise and I for one, am cautiously optimistic. Time will tell.

  2. Have a well earned rest. We’ll all know when you’ve woken from it because the universe is going to look brighter when it’s taken a few minutes to grasp your message. And better loved, and better loving. Thank you for being such a purpose-filled blessing. xxx

  3. I’m Canadian, and I’ve never cried over the results of an American election before, so this is a first for me too. I simply cannot believe it. I keep repeating my soul-sustaining quote: “The arc of the universe is long but it bends toward justice.” —Martin Luther King Jr. Some good will come of this.

  4. You wrote my words. I cried too AND finished The Crown. Dave, fast asleep, is Canadian and could not vote. I was alone in my sadness and utter shock as both kids are now on their own and my furry friend, dead. I cannot put into words how I was feeling but you came to my rescue and did it for me. I’m with you…..

  5. Jaime cried last night in bed. We can’t raise our children in this. The Republicsns have the most anti-LGBT plank they’ve ever had. Thank you for the post. We are lucky in that Jaime and the kids have EU passports. We may actually need to use them.

    • I cried with Jaime – tho’ it was a long distance experience. I ache and worry for my friends, their children, my children and grandchildren. I want to recognize our country and in this moment, it is opaque to me.

  6. Beautifully written Mimi, I can so relate to what you are feeling. We must show love and kindness, be the lights in this world even when we do not understand how all this will work out. Stay strong my friend, we have a long journey ahead of us 😊

  7. I can relate to this completely. It was a long lonely night and the day is rainy and dreary. I am hoping that is not an omen. We will each continue to move forward one step at a time.

    • Same here Kate…long, lonely and this pervasive sense of disbelief. Add to the rain, one of my dogs being sick to his stomach – talk about omens..😞

  8. The night before election night, I awoke in a panic, filled with an overwhelming sense of dread that I could not shake. I clung to the hope that my ‘radar’ was off, but alas…. You have captured my feelings of despair and dislocation so beautifully, honey–your message goes right to my heart. At the moment, I do not recognize my country. I’ve been disappointed by election outcomes before, but never afraid, and this morning I awoke with a heart full of fear and an abiding sadness. Mending this rift will take steady hands and wise counsel, and at the moment, I see no signs of hope on that horizon Just trying to focus on those I love and the things that I can control. So grateful for you…. XOXXO, l

    • No surprise that we spent these nights in similar states of disorientation and disquiet…and here we sit in a state of exhaustion and disbelief. What else can we do but love each other harder and pray that humble, wise and compassionate heads appear and prevail..I love you xoxox, m

  9. Thank you for your post today. I so wish we could have provided the world with a different outcome for our election. I am in shock and sick with disappointment and fear. I wish I could apologize to everyone across the globe who hoped we would exhibit more sense. Please know that many of us are taking this as a wake-up call to stand up even taller and louder for equality, the environment, peace, and the world we all hope to see.

    • And that is our responsibility – to continue to advocate for what we believe to be fair and just. To allow ourselves the time to recover, and then to stand taller as you so beautifully note.

  10. I actually got made myself feel sick from the anxiety watching last night. When I saw it hit the point that I knew Hilary was going to loose I quit watching. Today, I am at a loss. I just don’t know what to expect, or how bad things are going to get before they get better.

    • It will be up to all of us to make it better – even those of us who feel dispirited and frightened and dismayed. We will heal, and we will continue to hold dear and stand for what we believe to reflect the fiber of this wonderful country.

  11. Over here in Australia we grieve for you but remember he does not define you. I have so many beautiful American friends, each one feeling this news in their own way. Maybe it will get more people to vote in the future. I hope in the new day you can find some joy.
    Kath

    • It has certainly been stunning, sobering and a bit daunting. My prayer is that we unite and come together with a shared pride in our country, our diversity and our remarkable potential…thank you so much for stopping by..

  12. Oh Mimi, somehow when all I have is tears and despair you have words. I really wish we could cry together and try to swallow a bite of grilled cheese despite the lumps in our throats. I truly can’t remember a time when I couldn’t find any spark of joy, gallows humor…something. Taking comfort in Dan and fur babies and so very grateful to have them. Sending you all my hugs and love and feeling your warmth from here. One day at a time. One minute at a time. We’ll climb out of this pit. We have to. That’s what we do. Much love. XOXOXO

    • I’d give a lot for an Amphora diner date right now. We will climb out, you’re right, it’s what we do. But sometimes you just have to hug those you love…and eat some grilled cheese with your friend. I love you..xox

  13. I love the questions you ask of yourself Mimi. What is my purpose now? What is my place when I don’t feel connected in this changing world? We all need to ask this of ourselves. If we don’t, we will be led into fear and uncertainty. The answers are within. We all have an important role here and you are already contributing to the greater whole Mimi.

  14. even though I am from Canada I feel your pain which I hope has been relieved a bit with the passage of time (though it is not long at all it seems like it). I love your answer to “why am I here”. I think I will abscond (?) with it and use it as my own. love you….

  15. I did read this twice. Both times discovering different nuances and remembering that night. It could have been my reflections (although much better expressed here), or my best friend’s who shares much of the historical family perspective with you. We are both still struggling to find our renewed purpose. Loved it, Mimi.

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