Where are you going?

When we’re stuck and “down in the dumps” it’s an important question, what’s the point of all this, where are we going? Apart from the stock, usually religious, “answers” which are other people’s ideas anyway but which you get invited to believe in and which you’re perhaps struggling with, otherwise you wouldn’t be asking…and (huge, deep breath!), what’s your idea of where you are going?

That’s more pertinent, since it draws it in to you, and away from the abstract and other people’s perceptions and closer to home and your goals, plans, intentions, dreams and purpose.

Crises of faith test our resolve, and can expose our gaps and our lack of thought to what we’re creating individually and where we’re going. Upheavals and change have this effect, to lead us to question what it’s all about, and to create new meaning. Existentialists would say that that is what we do with life. It has, they say, no purpose or meaning except that which we choose for it. So it’s down to us.

This was powerfully tested by Viktor Frankl, as described in his classic book Man’s Search for Meaning. He was a survivor of Auschwitz and he describes in his book how he learned that a fundamental task of humans was to choose and make meaning. When, faced with the enormous privations they encountered, they ceased to do that in the camp, and gave up, they died.

That still might not deal with the crisis of faith. As St John of the Cross found, we can go through Dark Nights of the Soul, which can severely test us but have a healing benefit, since we can purge our ego and resolve long-standing obstacles to our growth. The point is to be able to see beyond the immediate to the bigger picture. Hence it helps to know where you’re going.

It also tests us to manage the mind and to teach us to “get off” the thinking pattern which is pulling us down. Which means you need to know what that is all about. Hence the vital importance of practicing awareness and witnessing, and finding these things out.

The art is one of exercising choice, to shift from anxiety about where you are going, to one of intention, purpose and action.