Reference Points #3: Goals and Dreams
Here’s a short section from my new memoir, Govt Cheese:
I wake up in my van. I don’t know where I am. I don’t know who I am. The reality of my existence is that my identity, if I ever had one, has dissolved. Goals. Do I have any? I can’t even conceive of the possibility. A purpose? To survive until tomorrow. I open the van’s side doors. It’s warm. I’m in a dirt turnout at the edge of a farmer’s field. Corn. Oh yeah, I’m in Iowa. Where, I have no clue. It takes me a moment to remember where I’m going. East? West? Where am I coming from?
Goals and a purpose are reference points too. (As distinguished from material reference points like Where I Work, Whom I’m Married To, What Time Is It?) Goals and purposes ground us. “Oh yeah, I’m doing this so I can get into Harvard!” “I’m working out so I can compete in the Ironman in nine months.”
But in the wilderness, we don’t have those reference points. We are free-floating. We’re unmoored, unhinged, untethered.
In a way, this is good.
What it means at the soul level is that we have left behind our old goals and dreams and are seeking new ones—ones that are more in alignment with our Real Self.
For me, on my Wilderness Passage, the goals and purpose I was seeking (though I had no idea of this at the time) were the ones I was running from in the first place. I wanted to write. I wanted to find my voice. I had ambition. I wanted to act upon it. But I had been devastated emotionally by the failure that was my first attempt at achieving this.
For me, the new reference points I was seeking were the same as the ones I had left behind. What I needed was the courage (or in my case, the desperation) to face those fears again and, this time, do it right.
We said earlier in this series that every Wilderness Passage, like Odysseus’s across the Aegean, was about Coming Home. That’s what it was for me. I had to go through my own version of hell to get back to what my goals and purpose were from the very start.
P.S. We still have 75 signed first editions of GOVT CHEESE: A Memoir. available here. It ain’t too late!