I had the pleasure of meeting elder Gerry Oleman who told me he found himself walking around BCIT campus, feeling terribly out of sorts among the ivory towers, starting a new job. He was asking himself “what am I doing here.” He posed that question on a level of meaning rather than direction (ie. getting a job so I have money to pay bills…). Gerry naturally lives in what I would call the love-based world as taught to him by his First Nations grandmother. It then occurred to him that he was there because he was meant to be there. He settled in and received whatever experience came his way, and has since fostered a very meaningful career sharing his insights and traditional values. I met him at the AIM workshop on Aboriginal Engagement for the mineral industry and we all left that day enriched by what he shared.
This struck me as profound. How often do you stop yourself in your tracks and ask yourself ‘why am I here?’ It is the act of finding meaning in what you do. Normally we walk around just finding direction. As quickly is possible. What could be more lofty than being busy? I would now answer, ‘taking the time to find the meaning.’
Before you can find meaning you have to accept the concept that there is meaning in life. It is a fundamental part of the love-based world. The fear-based world believes everything is objective, driven by laws of physics and mathematical probabilities. The goal is to choose an optimal outcome and shape your world to move in that direction. The quest for meaning in the love-based world makes room for the possibilities you never thought of, it opens you to creativity, it requires you to look for the message in things.
One of the messages that Gerry shard with us was “love and respect everything that keeps you alive.” Another gem that in one simple statement clarifies meaning and guides your actions. With this in my heart I find myself focusing my awareness on what I love so I can shower it with love and respect. Try it, it will really affect your outlook. I found myself thinking about what it would mean to love my house for instance. It is more pleasant for me to mow the lawn as an act of love, I discovered, than as part of an endless to-do list. It also gave me a sense of priority. Tasks related to what keeps me alive naturally first becasue they are grounded in meaning. The Steven Covey message to avoid things that were urgent and important to others (ie. not me) gained deeper meaning for me.
I have friends in Calgary who are going through the floods right now. They have told me about the kindness of strangers and the clarity it has given them about what is really important in their lives. It is a difficult and costly situation. It is also a great time to notice the good qualities in people and love and respect that in them.