Transformation only happens through experiences.
This idea was recently offered as I sat in the audience of an exceptional speaker and former science teacher, Steve Spangler. At first, I misunderstood his point and wanted to argue as I’ve experienced a transformative idea, thought, or epiphany as I read a story or sat in a moment of quiet. And that was his point. Transformation only happens through experiencing that idea, thought, or epiphany for the person experiencing it - whether during a physical activity with others or sitting in solitude.
I’ve found that walking in the snow also offers quiet, magical solitude and I am writing this piece after such a magical experience up in the mountains. Here is where I find magical reflection and transformative ideas and how I know:
Transformation is an individual success story.
Yes, we can watch someone experiencing something, but we cannot be in their head while new ideas, actions, or dreams formulate because of that experience.
Finding one’s purpose is much the same story.
A quote attributed to Mark Twain yet popularized by Reverend Campbell is that “the 2 most profound days of one’s life are the day they are born and the day they realize why they were born.” An altered version offers that the second day is when you find your purpose - the over-arching why to why you are here on this earth. This last version may be the hardest as it must be defined by the individual - not those around them.
For the first day - anyone who is reading this has a story, including me.
My brother and I were very wanted babies. It took surgeries and 9 years of trying before my parents conceived me, and 3 years later conceived my brother. My favorite part of our story is conception tended to happen right after they finalized their choice to adopt. The relief, the happiness of a way forward, a choice that brought hope, must have been just what my parents needed to relax and enjoy the moment.
I’ve always loved that part of our story because just 3 years after my brother came into the world, a car accident took our mother. I have no idea if there would have been other siblings, in our devastation from the loss, I never thought to ask.
Understanding the first most important day of my life, knowing that I was born and very wanted helped bolster me when times got tough. Knowing your origin story may do the same. We all have one.
The other important day seems to shift, change, and bounce along the calendar as I am always finding new reasons why I may have been born.
Was it to be a mother myself? There are two more humans on the planet because of that.
Was it to be there for my brother or father, and later connect with others on how hard it is to pick up the pieces?
Was it to survive two more car accidents - both while in a stopped car, moving a family around with the military, and cancer so that I could empathize and guide others going through trauma, change, or disruptions?
I don’t know. Perhaps my purpose is yet to be defined.
I do know that when I witness the result and hear the story of someone else finding their transformation moments after we’ve coached together, I feel a nudge that getting to coach others may be why I still get to be here.
This month, take a moment to sit, or walk, in solitude, reflect on what has gone right because of you, and contemplate if those moments help build your purpose - for you.