“If only that problem would go away, then I’d be happy.”
From experience, we all know this isn’t true. Every time one problem gets solved, another one takes it’s place. Thankfully, those aren’t the problems we’re talking about.
We’re talking about big problems. Problems that itch. Problems that inspire. Problems that, most of all, won’t be solved without your help.
Jon Kabat-Zinn calls it your, “Job on the Planet with a Capital J,” in his book, Wherever You Go There You Are:
“Buckminster Fuller, the discoverer/inventor of the geodesic dome, at age thirty-two contemplated suicide for a few hours one night at the edge of Lake Michigan, as the story goes, after a series of business failures that left him feeling he had made such a mess of his life that the best move would be for him to remove himself from the scene and make things simpler for his wife and infant daughter. Apparently everything he had touched or undertaken had turned to dust in spite of his incredible creativity and imagination, which were only recognized later. However, instead of ending his life, Fuller decided (perhaps because of his deep conviction in the underlying unity and order of the universe, of which he knew himself to be an integral part) to live from then on as if he had died that night.
Being dead, he wouldn’t have to worry about how things worked out any longer for himself personally and would be free to devote himself to living as a representative of the universe. The rest of his life would be a gift. Instead of living for himself, he would devote himself to asking, “What is it on this planet [which he referred to as Spaceship Earth] that needs doing that I know something about, that probably won’t happen unless I take responsibility for it?” He decided he would just ask that question continuously and do what came to him, following his nose. In this way, working for humanity as an employee of the universe at large, you get to modify and contribute to your locale by who you are, how you are, and what you do. But it’s no longer personal. It’s just part of the totality of the universe expressing itself.
Rarely do we question and then contemplate with determination what our hearts are calling us to do and to be. I like to frame such efforts in question form: “What is my job on the planet with a capital J?”, or, “What do I care about so much that I would pay to do it?” If I ask such a question and I don’t come up with an answer, other than, “I don’t know,” then I just keep asking the question. If you start reflecting on such questions when you’re in your twenties, by the time you are thirty-five or forty, or fifty or sixty, the inquiry itself may have led you a few places that you would not have gone had you merely followed mainstream conventions, or your parents’ expectations for you, or even worse, your own unexamined self-limiting beliefs and expectations.
You can start asking this question any time, at any age. There is never a time of life when it would not have a profound effect on your view of things and the choices you make. It may not mean that you will change what you do, but it may mean that you may want to change how you see it or hold it, and perhaps how you do it. Once the universe is your employer, very interesting things start to happen, even if someone else is cutting your paycheck. But you do have to be patient. It takes time to grow this way of being in your life. The place to start of course is right here. The best time? How about now?”