One of the tasks that midlife charges us with is to set ourselves up so that the remainder of our lives count; meaning that they are seen as worthwhile to us as individuals. The adage “life is too short…” becomes all too real and actionable- and we see that unless we change some fundamental things about how we approach and engage with our lives, we run the risk of missing the essential meaning and purpose of our time here.
An important thing to remember about meaning and purpose is that what we do with the rest of our lives only has to be meaningful and purposeful to us as individuals. It’s really nobody else’s business. In fact, midlife is the time to discover just that: how we have not been responsible to our deeper selves by deferring to other’s ideas of what should provide meaning and purpose.
There is an essential knack to uncover and develop during this time, and that is to be able to separate the genuine need for meaning and purpose from the superimposed idea that we must be socially recognized or rewarded for our individual Genius qualities that we give outward expression to. What I’m alluding to is the idea that Genius expression is deeply personal. If we make this simple personal expression of Genius enough in itself, without needing it to be validated by the world at large, we are rewarded with an intrinsic satisfaction that only comes by being true to ourselves at all costs.
For example, if one of your Genius traits is songwriting for instance, the salient and important part is the songwriting itself. It starts by the individual in us being moved or touched by something we have witnessed, or of an idea that had bubbled up from deep within our consciousness. This feeling in turn is strong enough to want to be expressed outwardly, and the task is to be a shepherd to this expression, and to nurture it long enough so that it can stand on its own, outside of ourselves. Separated from the need to have the song recognized and loved by millions, songwriting for its own sake is itself the reward of allowing our true Genius voice to be expressed. If we try and connect outward success, recognition, or fame to our Genius expression, we run the risk of misunderstanding why we have our Genius talents in the first place, which is as Zen teacher Shunryu Suzuki puts it, to “Shine one corner of the world”. To me this means that we need to first find what we individually feel is of the utmost importance to express outwardly, and then allow it to shine forth wherever we may find ourselves.
Separating the idea of Genius expression from outward success and recognition allows for an untainted manifestation of our true talents and gifts. It simplifies the process of first giving birth to what our Genius wants to give as a gift, and then seeing where and to whom this gift wants to be given.
That being said, the world, or whatever part of it we came here to touch with our individuality is thirsty for the unique and refreshing gifts that come from our pure Genius expression. Everyone benefits from a single individual being true to themselves. It doesn’t matter whether we express an amazing symphony or a single act of kindness; the world is thirsty. In our short time here, doing what we love, we can provide water from our individual well of Genius.