What is my purpose? Why am I here? How do I help others? What can I do to make this world a better place?
These questions have been rattling around in my head more than ever over the last two years. I started to ask them when I was a child; but they became louder and resonated more inside my head in the weeks and months before Suzanne died in 2018.
Somehow, I found an answer to most of these questions. It took a lot of hard work, a deep dive from my head into my heart, and plenty of tears (of sadness, frustration and joy). Eventually I found my purpose–the reason why I am here and what that purpose means to me (and to others).
In the year after Suzi died, I chose to embark on a quest to become a life, performance and business coach. There are a lot of coaches out there. Some struggle to ever coach a single person.
I chose to be different. I didn’t want to be just any coach. In my quest to find my own purpose, I discovered that my dharma–my purpose–is to coach men who want to discover (or rediscover) their own purpose and passion in life. I am helping others to get themselves unstuck from the conditions and programs that have held them back from achieving their true potential as men. Just like I did.
“I need to figure out what I want to do with the rest of my life,” is a statement one of the men I am working with has uttered. He’s not the only one who has said it. I have, too. So have others. I said it too many times to remember in the last two years, let alone in the 49-years prior to that.
Somewhere along the path of life, I took a wrong turn. Instead of choosing my own (red) path, I started to walk the black path of life. The idea of the two paths comes from Native American mythology, where they describe two completely different walks of life–a red path and black path: The red path is that of courage and true calling. The black path is autopilot, unthinking, unconscious.
Previously, I walked the black path, never really examining whether I was living authentically or to my true nature. Today, I am walking the red path. I have chosen to live my life differently than I ever have before. I have chosen to live in integrity, doing the work for my self and for others, so that I can be of service to them and guide them away from the black road towards the red one.
My layoff in November 2019 followed by the pandemic forced me to reassess what I truly want from my life and who I am truly here to help. The discovery–the determination that I have a purpose again–has led me to focus clearly and sharply on how I can help others be and become the very best version of themselves, and in the process, do the same for my true self.
Christina Rasmussen wrote, “The moment we experience devastating loss, we stop being traditional human beings. We are the people who get to change the world because we have compassion and an understanding about pain. We know what it’s like to be at the rock bottom and try to find our way back up again.”
Because the young widowed have experienced such profound emotion and devastation in life at a much younger age than the majority of widows, we are able to find a level of compassion and understanding for ourselves that few achieve so early in life. This allows so many new perspectives to arise within us, enabling deep understanding and contact with the broader meaning in life.
By virtue of the depths of grief, soul searching is commonplace. This in turns leads to new discovery and shifting priorities. While some widow(er)s with young children find themselves unable to spend hours, days or weeks contemplating what they want to do with their lives after the loss of their spouse, they still do. Some even obsess over it. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
The whole idea of trying to find my purpose and passion are directly related to experiencing the profound loss of Suzanne. But there are so many other men (and women) out there who have never experienced the loss yet still find themselves trudging along the black road …
“Birth, school, work, death.” This is the black road. By choosing to walk the red road (or path) we are accepting that life will consist of difficult choices, unknown pathways, insecurity and challenges that lead to breakdowns and breakthroughs of all kinds. This is the challenge I have begun to face as a man, as a father, as a widower and as a coach. It is a challenge to help others find their own red roads and choose to walk it.