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Tending the Seeds of Purpose
I believe we're each both garden and gardener in our life, but we are not *the* garden or *the* gardener. While we are each unique participants in the dance of creation, we're also inseparable from every other participant.
I believe we are each both garden and gardener in our life,
but we are not *the* garden or *the* gardener. In other
words, while we are each unique participants in the dance of
creation, we are also inseparable from every other
participant in that dance. Everything I do in the garden of
my life affects and is affected by what you do in yours and
vice versa. What’s more, somehow there is a collective
garden and a collective gardener, though we appear to be
light-years away from conscious, let alone skillful,
participation at that level.
If this is true, the way we conceive of and conduct business
is of the utmost importance for ourselves, our children, our
neighborhoods, and our planet. The choices we make each day
shape not only our personal legacies, but also our cultural,
environmental, and political legacies. Yet too often, I
fear, we draw back from this realization and all that it
implies because we cannot tolerate the contrast between our
responsibility (HUGE) and our control (tiny).
Let’s stop doing that right now. Let’s step up and start
tending to the seeds of purpose within our hearts and souls
and within the hearts and souls of our communities of
Begin by being response-able
Ask yourself: “In what ways--no matter how small--can I tend
the garden that I am and to the garden that I am part of
(my community, my relationships, my industry or profession)?
Make a list (keep it short), then do one thing every day.
Here are some examples:
• Tithe 10% of your income to causes that you really care
about. Don’t wait until you have more money, just do it.
• Learn to tell the truth without brutalizing the other
• Look at your practices and habits, and ask yourself:
what kind of reality am I generating by living this way? If
you are living on a diet of energy bars (guilty!), perhaps
taking time to make a salad or cook some veggies would put
you more in touch with the earth, at a cost of 15 minutes a
• Love and respect are not feelings; they are actions. If
your relationships are under-nourished, decide now to feed
them with awareness, attention, and commitment. Review your
outstanding commitments (implicit and explicit).
Respectfully renegotiate any that you cannot fulfill.
• When doubtful, afraid, or confused, pause. Breathe.
Connect to whatever it is that you hold to be of
transcendent value. Then ask yourself, “If I truly believed
that my action could bring more light to the world, what
would I do now?” Don’t be surprised if the answer is small
and simple. Just do it.
I don’t know about you, but I am tired of being jaded and
ironic. The world doesn’t need more hipness; it needs our
loving commitment and wide-awake attention.
• I’ll say it again, tithe. Putting your money where your
heart is makes a great antidote to cynicism and invites
gratitude. The more you give, the more you will understand
how much you have.
• Practice appreciating others. Allow yourself to marvel
at the many ways we move in the world. No need to pretend
we’re all perfect; while that may be true in the absolute
sense, in the manifest realm we’re all really pretty funny.
We don’t have to be cynical to laugh.
• Make a list of your chronic complaints--the beliefs you
hold about why your life and work can’t be different that
are so ingrained you hardly even know you hold them. (Tip:
ask a co-worker, spouse, or friend to clue you in.) Then
look for evidence that you’re mistaken.
Give up magical thinking
Yes, the world needs loving commitment, but we can’t heal or
deal effectively by romanticizing ancient wisdom, retreating
to suburban Pleasantvilles, or lounging in bubble baths
while we burn incense and listen to chanting.
Put magic to work. Unpack the symbols and rituals that speak
to you; explore the interpretations and implications of the
images you find significant. Journal, dance, draw, and talk
about what you discover. Then put your insights to work in
Cultivate a loamy seedbed for yourself (go ahead, have a
bubble bath). But if you don’t get out in the sun, the rain,
and the wind, you won’t grow. If you seek comfort and avoid
discomfort, you’ll stunt your growth. Some ways to cultivate
* Walk to work, even in the rain
* Get up 30 minutes early to pray or meditate for the wellbeing
of the world.
* Turn off the TV and volunteer five hours a week to the cause
of your choice.
* Practice listening thoroughly to others before speaking
your point of view.
The point is not to endure discomfort for discomfort’s sake,
but for the freedom you gain when comfort is no longer a
limiting factor in how you show up or serve.
Tend the soil
“[How can] a tiny seed create a huge tree? Seeds do not
contain the resources needed to grow a tree. These must come
from the medium or environment within which the tree grows.…
In a sense, the seed is a gateway through which the future
possibility of the living tree emerges." Peter Senge, et al,
in Presence, Human Purpose and the Field of the Future.
As Peter Senge and company point out, no matter what kind of
seed is growing in you, it can’t grow into a tree without
nutrients. Here are some ways to enrich the soil that
nourishes the seed of purpose.
• Meditation can turn the garbage in our psyches to
compost. (See Holosync - it's a powerful tool to develop the
neurological components of increased awareness. It has made
meditation the rule rather than the exception in my daily
• Maybe your physiology could use a shot in the arm
(aerobic exercise, anyone? Pilates?).
• Or perhaps what’s most wanting is connection, the
exchange of attention, caring, even touch with other human
beings. Join a book club. Take meals to the sick. Say hello
to the checker in the supermarket.
If you think you don’t have time for these things, consider
them spiritual overhead, as essential to your work as paying
Keep it simple, but don't over simplify
Gardening, life, work--these are all vast endeavors. Yet in
any given moment there is only one weed to pull, one breath
to take, one thing to be done.
Anyone of my suggestions could be a perfect fit or utter
hogwash depending on your circumstances and how you
interpret what I have written. If you’re a working mom or
dad getting by on 6 hours of sleep, getting up 30 minutes
early to meditate for the good of the planet is probably not
the best move. This is not intended to be a
one-size-fits-all recipe for enlightened action, but a
simple wake-up call, calling you back to what you already
know, and calling you forward to what you are pretending you
You don't need to know your purpose to tend to it
Perhaps the most important thing is that you can cultivate
and express your purpose without knowing what it is. Will
you begin now?
Learn more about the author, Molly Gordon.
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- Mindful Business
- professional development
- Seeds of Purpose