We don’t need intense objects of love, just to love more intensely.
The story is that St Francis of Assisi, on his deathbed said to the monks gathered around him:
“I have done what is mine to do. May you do what is yours.”
It’s a beautiful statement of humility. He would have been totally forgiven if he wanted to showboat it a bit in those final moments. He lived a life of beauty and service that few humans in history have ever come close to.
“I have rocked this life like a radical mofo. Peace out.”
But no, he played it low. “I haven’t done anything special here guys. Don’t get crazy. I simply did what was mine to do.”
I also find it’s one of those beautiful questions – one of those questions that pulls your head out from under the waves into the clear air of reflection.
“What is mine to do?”
There’s something about this that feels so different to “What should I be doing with my life.”
If you ask yourself what you should be doing, you’re going to get self-serving answers, most probably.
You should eat some cake, become famous, seduce a supermodel, sleep in til 2pm.
But at the same time, “What does the world want or need me to do?” can lead you down paths that aren’t really yours.
You should save the amazon, get a proper haircut, stay in a toxic relationship for the kids, wear organic bamboo socks.
But the question, “What is mine to do?” is different.
It gets you searching for something that is truly, uniquely yours. No one else’s.
And to hear the answer, it seems to demand stillness. Quietness. A nice cup of tea on the deck.
I feel pretty confident saying that we don’t really spend enough time really tuning in with ourselves. Really finding out what is going on – what wounds are unhealed, what drives are unfulfilled.
And so to find out ‘what is mine to do’ seems to require us to stop and listen to that quietest voice inside us. The voice that is usually drowned out by the impatient tantrums of the ego or the stern rebukes of society.
And if we can do that, then wouldn’t you know it, it makes the whole quest so much lighter.
Trying to figure out what you are ‘supposed’ to do in life is hard. It’s heavy. It’s like you’ve got strategically work out all of your possible actions and their consequences, and then choose the one that leads you to some supposed ideal life – the one true life you were supposed to live.
Talk about pressure!
But simply doing what is yours to do is easier. If it doesn’t work out in a grand and glorious way, that’s ok. You just did what was yours to do. What was right the moment you looked at it. There was no expectation that it would lead somewhere particular, just that you would show up and do the work that was needed.
So if you’re looking for a fresh perspective on your life, sit with this question for a while. Give it some time. Listen closely.
You might be surprised (and relieved!) at what you hear.