Just a few days ago I read an article about the Mountain Caribou that live in the Selkirk Mountains very close to where I live here in Sandpoint, Idaho. Reading the article gave me a powerful reminder that living on purpose means being with all my emotions. The article shared a heartbreaking report of how only three individuals remain, down from eleven, in the South Selkirk herd of Mountain Caribou that roam southern British Columbia, Washington, and Idaho.
These are the very last of the caribou in the lower 48 states here in the US. The three remaining individuals are all female, which means that the herd is functionally extinct.
My heart dropped when I read this. To me, these caribou are a symbol of all that is wild and pristine. Anger started to rise from deep within as I considered the poor management practices that lead to this situation. Underneath that anger of course was a deep sadness for this incredible loss.
A Slippery Slope
Then something interesting happened. I found myself wanting to check out. You know, like go read another article, or go do some work, or go watch a movie. I wanted to do just about anything that would take me away from these uncomfortable feelings.
Luckily, I was able to catch myself in this subconscious effort to avoid my emotions. Thanks to years of developing my emotional intelligence, I knew what was happening. This was my automatic response attempting to avoid pain in an effort to protect myself.
But I knew better. I’ve learned that hard way what happens when I repress my emotions. I’ve learned how they will come out sideways at the worst possible times. I might wind yelling at my kids or making a nasty remark to my wife that I would later regret.
Being WITH the Emotions
So rather than play out that whole dysfunctional cycle again, I paused. I paused and really took a timeless moment to allow myself to BE with my feelings. I began to dance with sadness, anger, and fear.
What would it mean to have my home watershed devoid of these magnificent creatures? Why the hell don’t governmental agencies get their ass in gear and take greater precautions towards preventing this irreversible loss? What will the greater ramifications be from losing our beloved Mountain Caribou?
Before long, I found myself incredibly motivated to step up my own actions of conservation and nature connection mentoring. I had been fueled up by truly being WITH the reality of the loss of Mountain Caribou.
Living on Purpose
Living on purpose means showing up consciously for the full spectrum of emotional realities of our life on planet Earth at this time. It means not taking the shortcut of numbing out to that which is uncomfortable. Living with purpose means living for the greater good of the whole. It means taking actions that benefit not just ourselves or our family, but our greater community and indeed the world at large.
Perhaps your neighborhood woods gets logged to build more homes. Maybe your partner or friend isn’t able to show up for you when you wanted or needed them to. Perhaps you have an old emotional wound surfacing from childhood. No matter the issue, if we yearn to live a fully expressed life of purpose, we’ve got to take courage and be WITH the difficult moments.
And you know what? When we share those moments with others, like I am doing now with you, the burden lifts. We find connection and inspiration.
What sadness, anger, or fear dances inside you? I urge you to be WITH it. Feel it. Don’t check out or numb out. Trust that by moving THROUGH it, you’ll find the gift on the other side. This will be your most potent rocket fuel for your journey of living on purpose.