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Life Purpose

Life purpose is the theme of every play we come here to perform. In the same way this moment rests atop a thousand turns and choices, in the way it grows from each forgotten hour that taught us how to live, life purpose grows from the struggles and mistakes of past incarnations. We can’t remember them any more than we can remember the many bruises of childhood, or the moment we first understood the power of the earth to make us fall. But they are the text, the story that forms a reason to come back again.

In the calm between lives we make two choices—what we are here to do and what we are here to learn. A task and a lesson. They arise from the same karma, the same lost chance, the same unfinished work. The task may be to teach or protect, or soften the pain of others. The learning may focus on patience or surmounting fear of letting go of the self. The lesson and the task intertwine so the protector learns to accept loss, or the builder learns patience as things fall apart.

Life purpose is a direction; we move toward it or away. Dark emotions—anger, fear, numbness, boredom, shame—are signs that we have set the wrong course, away from our purpose. Sometimes we correct course, sometimes we cannot. We will get there—in this life or the ones succeeding. There is no rush, no failure. There is all the time in the world.

Matthew McKay
by Matthew McKay

Matthew McKay is a clinical psychologist and a professor at the Wright Institute in Berkeley, California. In 1979, he cofounded Haight Ashbury Psychological Services in San Francisco and served as its clinical director for twenty-five years. Currently he serves as the director of the Berkeley Cognitive Behavior Therapy Clinic. He has explored spiritual and afterlife issues in two previous books: Why? and Your Life on Purpose. He is also the author of professional and self-help psychology books, including Thoughts & Feelings, Messages, Mind and Emotions, Self-Esteem, Prisoners of Belief, and many others.

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