This is a rather expansive question but one I have been wrestling with since moving to Chamonix. What is my purpose? What am I actually doing right now? And, am I happy with that direction?
Every great change is preceded by chaos – Deepak Chopra
As most of you will know, Sophie and I have undergone a huge amount of change recently; casting off our city lives for a very different way of life in Chamonix, France; leaving good jobs in promising companies; and exploring a more outdoor way of life.
Over the last 6 months, if anyone has asked me what am I doing out in Chamonix, I’ve generally replied with an off-hand joke or comment about climbing as much as possible, consulting a bit, and seeing what we can do out here.
All of that is true but it fails to express the underlying worries, fears, and uncertainties I have been trying to confront. It is not all play out here and both Sophie and I have been working consistently throughout the summer with UK companies in one form or another. However, I have not felt that sense of purpose or drive that I get when I’m truly passionate and even obsessed with a project.
These worries, fears, and uncertainties have manifested themselves in the main question I have been battling ‘What is my purpose?’. I see people everyday who are going great guns after their dreams, making great sacrifices to make them come true and, through hard work, grit and determination, are seeing results. I know I have that in me, but where, and what, am I going to point it at?
Things have felt a little chaotic, somewhat directionless, and a whole lot confusing recently but I think I’m seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.
My adoring wife has been helping me through this maze of options and opportunities, supporting my decisions, encouraging me when I feel lost, and protecting me when I want to hide. A few weeks ago, a package turned up for me with a book in it, Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. Quickly reading the back cover I read it was the story of a psychoanalyst who had spent many years in some of the worst concentration camps in Nazi Germany and was his thesis on the meaning of life following this experience.
Noting that the book was from the spirituality section, I sceptically started to read, then devour it. I would highly recommend everyone reading it, if only as a brutally honest account of life in one of these camps, but also as the conclusion he draws is profound and one that I can really relate to:
Frankl concludes that the meaning of life is found in every moment of living.
I am a strong believer in baby steps, that taking small steps leads to big gains and not to getting caught up in the big picture which often clouds how to actually get started. I have been so caught up in what my purpose might be that I have not been able to see the baby steps that might put me on a path to doing more with my life.
The idea that your meaning is in every moment, in the baby steps, the little things and the small moments resonated with my baby steps beliefs and got me thinking; smaller, more immediate, and more personally.
I love the outdoors
It is no secret that I love everything about being outdoors; from just walking, to trail running, climbing rock or ice, and onto alpinism and the big mountains. I love it all. It feeds my soul, makes me smile from my toes to my fingertips, and is a place I find true clarity.
4 years ago, my outdoor experience was limited to a one week trip to Wales when I was 13 and a yearly trip snowboarding. Since then I’ve found spent most of my free time putting in the hours that have opened up a whole new world to me, a world that has provided me with countless smiles, got me fitter and stronger than ever before, and introduced me to inspiring and incredible people.
I have told people that I don’t know where I can take my climbing but I want to find out, I want to find out how good I can get, and really touch the limits of what I can achieve. However, I also want to share this with people too, not just through stories and blog posts, but through taking people out and enabling them to try out what I have discovered.
What is my purpose?
I’ve written about my munching, my digesting of everything around me, patiently (or not so patiently, as the truth might actually be) waiting to see what will come of it. Last night, lying in bed, Sophie asked me: If you can only do one thing for the next year, what would it be? One word leapt into my mind: Mountains. If I could only do one thing for the next year, I knew instantly, that I wanted to it be to do with mountains and the outdoors.
This got me thinking, if I were to live and work for a year, just in and around the mountains, how would that come together? What I want to do, more than anything, is to spend a lot of time in the hills, enabling people take their first steps outdoors like I did 4 years ago, and helping those with more experience grow further.
An obvious career choice springs to mind, mountain guiding. However, I also know that being a mountain guide is not for me.
I know a number of mountains guides and, through having a huge amount of respect for what they do, know that guiding is not a path I want to take. If I don’t want to be a guide, how else can I work in the mountains showing people what a wonderful place they are?
I have worked very hard over my life to develop a broad range of skills; I am a web designer and developer; I’ve strong digital marketing expertise; I’ve started my own successful business; I’ve even started my owned failed business. All of this provides me with a comprehensive toolset to call upon and utilise to achieve my goals, to reach my purpose.
So, what actually is my purpose, what is the meaning of my life right now:
I want to share the outdoors with people, from helping them take their first steps to facilitating more accomplished veterans grow further.
In November 2015, I want to look back over the year and know that I have achieved this. Through starting my own projects, working with other people, and working brands and companies, I want to get more people outdoors, discovering what the wonder that I have.
Now, where to begin? What is my first step? I see this blog post as my first baby step. Much like my post for my Alpine Apprenticeship, this is a declaration, a call to like-minded people to reach out or expect my call. So here I am, here is what I want to do, and this is my purpose. For now, at least.