When I began my career as a Purpose Guide, I was talking with my dear friend, Emma. Emma was in her late 20's and seemed to not have a clue about her purpose, so like a fool, I tried to enroll her in the purpose journey. As can be expected, her response was muted. She told me she didn't want to know her purpose, but rather just wanted to explore, play and create.
I have since learned that this too is purposeful.
I've always considered myself somewhat of a generalist, a B+ student, an amateur. I like discovering, playing, creating across a wide variety of fields and mediums. In college, I loved taking 100-level humanities courses. To this day, I love learning, but not perfecting new songs on the guitar. Even though I now have clarity about my gifts, what moves me and what I am devoted to, I still value having an seductive relationship to the unknown.
In this New York Times op-ed, "You Don't Want a Child Prodigy", the case was made that greatness more often the result of breadth, play and experimentation. I agree. Especially in one's teens and twenties, play, creativity, exploration are critical to having a unique experience of oneself. We have to try and fail in a wide variety of things, to develop our intuitions about our purpose, what is ours to do in the world. It's not that explicit purpose / soul discovery work is not helpful, but that there is also no substitute for play, creativity and adventure.
As Bill Plotkin illuminated in his opus "Nature and the Human Soul", the path to purpose must first go through the stage he calls "The Thespian at the Oasis", wherein we try out a bunch of funky stuff, just cuz. Just cuz we wanna. And for many of us in the West, we chose not to give this critical stage its due attention.
I know I didn't. For the most part, I went right from child to hard working student athlete. I bought into the American Dream success ethos and started thinking about college in junior high and how to become wealthy in highschool. Luckily, I regressed and found myself exploring and experimenting heavily in my 20's, until I heard the call to discover my reason for being in my early thirties.
Although this fun, experimental stage is a critical stage of soul / purpose development, it's also not a one and done. It's important and fun to take field trips back to this time of joy, play, spontaneity and creation.
For many years before and after my purpose journey, Burning Man was my favorite structure for no structure. I'd go out to the desert for a week once a year and just roll the dice with each moment, each day. I got hurt, had fun, learned a bunch of cool stuff, danced, almost died, met God, mourned, found love, made some amazing professional connections, had insights, communed with the Cosmos, and basically just allowed myself to listen to my desires.
And today as I explore and listen to what is next for me in terms of my impact and contribution, I am again feeling the call to play. Feeling a call to improv comedy, diving more into the genre of magical realism, maybe writing a song on the guitar.