Everyone is born with a vision to guide his or her life. Our mission is to find and follow it. What do I mean by vision? Eyesight? A beautiful light that illuminates everything you should do each day of your life? My definition of vision is neither of these, although it is connected to both. I hear so many people, especially those in their late teens and twenties, saying they feel lost about their purpose in life. Part of this feeling comes because we live in a world that values product, not process, a world that doesn’t believe that everyone is special and unique. Finding and following your vision can help you find your purpose, and more happiness. Historically when we read about visionaries we read about people who founded religions or empires: burning bushes, self-engraving tablets, talking animals, visits from the spirit world, manifest destinies. Today when we call someone a visionary we are usually referring to a scientist, a tech guru, an entertainment mogul who is ahead of the current trends and thoughts. When we lived more simply, in closer contact with the earth, many people had the opportunity to seek vision. In some tribes both men and women would go questing for vision when they reached adolescence. In other tribes, men would go on vision quests and women would seek their vision each month in a moon lodge (today often called a Red Tent, a place where menstruating women go to relax, dream and re-create themselves). I have been privileged in my life to guide over a hundred people on vision quests. They have all been life-altering experiences, as were my own visions and vision quests. I have many friends who are vision quest guides. Some of them were trained by the Bear Tribe, some by the School of Lost Borders in California, some by Native teachers willing to share this ceremony. A ceremonial vision quest lasts for one to four days. The questor goes alone to nature, although the guide checks on his or her wellbeing. The questor usually fasts from food and from all the other distractions of daily life. No cell phones, computers, televisions of any form are allowed. It is just the person and mother earth. At first people are often bored, and then caught up in their thoughts. It usually takes a while to slow down enough to begin to see all the wonderful parts of nature. A lot of people see them then mentally catalog them. When that stage is done, the questor is left with his or her own thoughts and feelings. And when even these familiar distractions become boring, the magic can happen. The questor begins to listen to his or her inner voice, or to have wonderful dreams. From this experience most people begin to “see” what has often been there all along, the correct next step for them to take to allow life to unfold. So how can this help you know your vision, your purpose if you are not able or inclined to go on a vision quest? Like all the vision seeds, it can help you to consider a different way of looking at your life. Realize that we all feel more connected to our life purpose if we spend some time connecting with nature. Whether you are a “nature girl or guy” who loves being in the wilderness, or one who sees any wilderness as a hideout for mosquitoes, ticks, poison ivy, zombies and other dangers, you can connect with nature. Take a hike, whether it is through a forest, or on a cement hiking trail. Look out your windows and see the trees, plants, birds and other animals. Watch nature rather than a phone or tablet when you are a passenger in a car. Nature is all around us, even in the biggest city. Check out the cracks between sidewalks if you don’t believe me. Take some time as frequently as you can to quiet yourself enough to hear your inner voice. There are so many ways to do this available today: meditation of many forms, mindfulness, even computer apps that play you relaxing music or noise. Find the one that works for you and use it. Trust that you were born with unique purposes, unique views of the world and the gifts and talents to communicate these views and fulfill these purposes. Look at what you loved as a child. This may help you determine the thing you really want to do, or the talent that will guide you to your next step. Most important, don’t make the mistake of thinking your purpose will remain the same throughout life. For some people, it does. But, more commonly, it changes as we change, learn and grow. I have had enough different life purposes and adventures that I talk about them as the different lifetimes I’ve had in this life. As you go through life, look for the common thread that weaves your adventures into a tapestry. For me this is writing. I’ve been doing it since I was seven, and when I make the time to include it in my life it is still what makes me feel more peaceful and happy. For some people this thread will be gardening, or mothering/fathering, or healing, or yoga, or exercise, or painting or making pottery or volunteering to help others, or cooking, or financial planning, or engineering, or cooking, or acting, or photography, or working with computers, or building, or running a business, or debating, or any of the other myriad things we can now do. Once you find your common thread use it to guide you to your next step, and then the next. Trust that doing the work you love, or living with the people you love, or gaining the knowledge you love will help you to find and follow your own vision of what your life should be each step of your way. As much as you can, enjoy each metaphorical and real step you take on this beautiful planet.
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