As cheesy or cliché as this may sound, I honestly believe that my highest purpose right now is to discover what exactly my highest purpose is. I don’t really know if I will ever find that answer, but for now it is the search on which I must concentrate. Until I come to that realization of the ‘what’ in my life, I will continue to focus on the ‘how.’
I agree completely with Dr. Ellis in that our highest purpose is not necessarily a ‘what’ but more so a ‘how.’ No matter where I find myself working or living in the next few years, my goal is to exemplify the virtues that I have learned to cherish. There are two virtues that I have recently grown to especially value in my life: trust and patience. These two values guided me through six months in Southeast Asia and, serving as my current ‘highest how,’ are the foundations of my everyday life. When I take the time to stop and think about my day in my own form of Ignatius’ Examen, these are the values I question. Am I patient with myself and others? Do I allow myself to patiently live in the present moment? Do I trust in God fully that, as long as I remain conscious of His push, I will be content with His ultimate will for my life? For me, God is at the center of this higher purpose. I have yet to discover exactly what it is towards which He is guiding me, but I am happy to have recently discovered the how.
So, how did these virtues grow to become cornerstones in my life? Well, without trust and patience, I would not have survived this past fall semester. I mean, I may have survived (in some situations at least), but definitely not with the ridiculous smile that could constantly be found on my face. It is the people I met, the cultures I experienced, and the situations in which I constantly found myself that opened my eyes to the importance of patience and trust in my life.
Of all my experiences over the past semester, the one that deals especially with trust and relates the most to Liz Gilbert’s experience in Eat Pray Love is, coincidentally enough, the time I spent in the one of the last countries I visited outside of Thailand: Bali, Indonesia. A few months into my trip, I decided that I wanted to experience some sort of traveling completely on my own. I wanted to feel the pressure of finding a place to stay, exploring markets, attempting to communicate and eating meals on my own. The perfect opportunity presented itself when our conflicting schedules left me with only one day to climb a volcano; the one adventure I refused to leave the beautiful little island without accomplishing. I signed up for the trip to climb Mount Batur to see the sun rise from the top at a small kiosk on the side of the road next to the beach in Kuta, Bali. My anxiousness that evening prohibited me from sleeping, but with two motorbikes arriving at 1:00am that night, sleep was hardly an option. Soon enough, the promised van arrived driven by two Balinese men and filled only with one other German man also making the independent trip. I hugged my friend Michele goodbye, told her not to worry, and climbed into the van. Three hours later, we pulled up to… darkness. Somehow I failed to realize that reaching the peak of a volcano for sunrise obviously entails climbing said volcano in complete and utter darkness. As I stepped out of the van (in which, might I add, I trusted these men not to kidnap me) a short Balinese man handed me a small flashlight for which I thanked him sincerely and clutched tightly in my hand. After spinning in circles, staring at the stars and searching for anything I hoped to recognize as a mountain, a man said “follow me” and I trustingly obeyed. With monkeys (which are, without a doubt, my number one greatest fear) screaming all around me, a stray dog following, a flashlight that allowed me to see two yards beyond my feet, and surrounded by unfamiliar men speaking a language I had no hope of understanding, the night had never seemed so black. To top it all off, the ground was feeling incredibly flat and at one point the German man leaned over and asked “is there a mountain in front of us?” I responded, “I certainly hope so.” At that moment, over all the Hail Mary’s I was screaming in my head, I thought to myself “What other choice do I have? I have to trust.” I decided to trust in my tour guides, trust in my own ability to climb this mountain (which, let’s be honest, I was beginning to doubt as I struggled through the volcanic ash), and trust in God that I would be protected. After three hours of climbing, the last hour of which my new Balinese friend pulled me up through the ash, the breath taking beauty of the sun rise over the peak of a neighboring mountain convinced me that trust is absolutely necessary to get anywhere in life.
By the end of my trip, I had come to recognize the importance of these two virtues not only as a rookie traveler, but also as an individual living in constant community with others. Living with patience and trust is my highest purpose. It continues to be the focus of my day as I strive to discover that “what” for which I am searching.