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The Inner Necessity

“We all have an essence, something inside of us that was uniquely assigned by the universe. This goes deeper than talent and skill. It’s a calling. An inner necessity.
Your essence doesn’t care about power, promotions, or possessions. It only cares about one thing: expression.
If essence is who you really are, then expression is how you show up in the world. Your essence is always calling for you—expression is how you take that call.
There’s a saying in the Gospel of Thomas: If you bring forth what is within you, that thing will save you. If you don’t, it will destroy you. That’s the thing about your essence. It is an inner flame that either lights up the world around you or burns a hole inside of you.
Each of us gets to choose between expression and emptiness. But no one escapes that choice.”

— Suneel Gupta, Everyday Dharma

I’ve been walking past this book, Everyday Dharma, since it arrived and set firmly on the kitchen counter, a gift from one of my bride’s company executives to the employees. It wasn’t meant to be my book to read, but I’d just finished one book and wasn’t feeling the vibes from three other books I’m in various stages of reading, so why not add one more? Sure, I generally try to finish what I start, and advocate for focusing on the task at hand, and yet when it comes to books I can’t seem to help myself. Everything in this world is timing.

Lately I’ve seen the wheels fall of some people I know who were so focused on putting everything within themselves into their careers that they forgot to do the maintenance that keeps us all healthy. We all must choose how we express ourselves in this world. Sometimes the form of that expression rips us apart, either from outside forces eventually overwhelming us or from that inner flame burning a hole inside of us, saying more and more persistently, “this is not who I am”. We ought to listen more, but there’s just so much to do first.

We’ve all asked ourselves the question, “What do I find most fulfilling?” as we navigate our lives. Rungs on the corporate ladder seem enticingly close, the pay a little better, the title a more soothing ego stroke, but when reached we find that it wasn’t the view we thought it would be. Our life’s purpose was never the next rung on the ladder, the degrees we acquire or the accolades of our biggest fans (thanks Mom). Our life’s purpose is that inner flame burning a hole inside of us, trying to find expression in the whirl of a busy life.

The thing is, we generally know the answer already, we just push it off for another day in favor of what others want for us. As those people I know have learned as their wheels fall off, there are only so many other days. The question remains, as Mary Oliver asked so much more eloquently than I can in The Summer Day:

“Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?”

May our expression be grounded in our essence, fulfilling and centered. We are each here for so short a stay. Yes, everything in the world is timing, and this is our time friends. So for me, I write, and read one too many books, I contribute what I can in productive and meaningful ways, I dabble in uncomfortable things and venture to unfamiliar places, and most of all, I savor. Yikes, that’s a lot of “I’s” in one paragraph. So how about you? We may all bring light to the world from our inner flame, and mustn’t we? Before it ends all too soon. What is it you plan to do?

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