Searching for Greatness and Meaning

“Before you embark on any path ask the question: Does this path have a heart?” 

Carlos Castaneda

I was writing a post about what it takes to do your greatest work. It started with the quote above and the thesis was that to make your greatest contribution you need to follow a path with heart, that you need to find and follow your passion because otherwise it would be very difficult to apply yourself to your fullest ability and won’t make the required sacrifices.

But the wheels of my post came off halfway through.

For the last year I’ve been on the quest of starting my own business. One that lets me do the things that I love eight hours a day. I think our society needs the unique contribution of each of us and I don’t think that my current job is an adequate outlet for my unique contribution.

Charting a new path scares me and it’s making me go back to basics in my spiritual practice. This reinforces the idea that I’m on the right path. One way to look at it is that we are all actors in a play and the director is now asking me to take on a more challenging role. A role that looks more difficult, that makes me feel uncertain—a role that will make me grow.

In my post I said that the reason why I hadn’t applied myself to my fullest capacity at any point of my life was because I hadn’t dared to walk a path with a heart. At that point, a deep part of me protested. We haven’t done our best? Ever? Then I was flooded with the memory of a few episodes when I had to overcome significant challenges. Other memories visited me today.

In this search for meaning and greatness, in this treasure hunt, what if I’ve been sitting on the treasure all along. I vaguely remember the story of a man who dreams of a treasure hidden in a distant land. After much toiling and sacrifices, he finally finds the place of his dreams. But he doesn’t find any treasures, only a poor man who tells him that he has had the same stupid dream. The place the poor man describes is exactly like the house of the man who had traveled from so far away.

This greatness I’m looking for, am I really going to find it in what I do? This greatness, how is it different from fame and money?

To paraphrase Mark Twain, I’ve lived through many financial difficulties, none of which have actually happened. I’ve been wishing to have more money in the bank and a higher salary. I’ve stressed about money for so long, when I live in the biggest house I’ve ever lived. When I’m more than what my parents earned at any point of their lives.

I’ve been looking for abundance, blind to the abundance around me. Material abundance, but more importantly, abundance of love.

What greatness am I looking for? What else do I need to be?

I’ve been impatient, thinking that I’m running out of time to achieve greatness and earn money. I’m changing my focus to developing an appreciation for being me.

I’m not changing my goals, just getting rid of some dead weight.

2 Replies to “Searching for Greatness and Meaning”

  1. Francisco, thank you. I needed to read this today. The most impactful part of your piece is:

    “I’ve been impatient, thinking that I’m running out of time to achieve greatness and earn money. I’m changing my focus to developing an appreciation for being me.

    I’m not changing my goals, just getting rid of some dead weight.”

    I felt the same realization recently when I reassessed if I’m in the right place doing this travel program. Travel of course is great fun however I’ve felt a feeling of distraction. After sitting with myself for a while I came to understand that perhaps I don’t need to travel all the time. That maybe for another person constant travel is the dream, but there is a version of the dream that fits for me (which includes some lazy days, I’ll admit!).

    The ending about dead weight is intriguing for the visual of being held back from one’s full potential by what’s been held onto. The biggest takeaway I have is that reassessment is necessary and can be hard if I’m not ready to let go, but alas, life is always moving so I need to move with it!


  2. Francisco, thanks for what you shared. Remembering that abundance is now is a great lesson – and the human condition is to want more and strive for more. How do you recognize that both are true all the time, and reconcile the tension between the two? I think this is a great question to explore more deeply. I’d be curious to hear tangible stories and examples that help to draw it down and make it real. When have you noticed the abundance in your life, and what did you do to notice it? How did it change your actions?

    Thanks again for sharing!


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