Well Now That I'm on a *Mission* and All...

While driving this morning, I was treated to some archived interviews on Forum, a show on our local NPR affiliate. I was struck by one with a woman named Rhodessa Jones, founder of a The Medea Project, which fosters artistic expression of incarcerated women through theater.

First of all, Ms. Jones came across as an incredibly fascinating woman with a rich and layered background in the arts here in the Bay Area. What an inspiration to listen to! Her voice was smooth and silky in that way that conveys a kind of transcendent wisdom. I wished I'd known more about her, sooner.

At one point the program's host, Michael Krasny, asked her a question and her response included the phrase, "part of my Mission Statement is..." I actually didn't catch exactly what she said after that because I was so captivated by the idea of having a Mission Statement--that a person could have one rather than a corporation or organization.

I'd never considered such a thing.

A quick Google search alerted me to the fact that writing personal Mission Statements is A Thing. As in, an entire industry. Stephen Covey has a how-to page on it. Many, many people and organizations do. There was so much to be found on the subject I was quickly overwhelmed.

While I was thinking about it, I sent Ms. Rhodessa Jones a message via Facebook seeking more information and perhaps a copy of her own mission statement as inspiration (because the act of living this long has given me the nothing-to-lose-but-time cojones to do things like that: write emails to perfect strangers in the hopes that they're in the mood to help). Since Rhodessa Jones is surely a very busy women who may not have the time to respond any time soon, if ever, I surfed until I landed on the web page of a blogger named "Gala Darling," who'd undertaken her own mission statement writing exercise on this day 2 years ago (I highly recommend visiting her post if you have any inclination to write a Mission Statement yourself. She has great suggestions on how to get started!). This is among the things she had to say on the subject:
...let me tell you a few reasons why writing a personal mission statement is important & useful. Firstly, it’s a fantastic way to figure out what your values are. This way, when you’re feeling bogged down with email, projects or meetings, you can quickly think back to your mission statement & be able to figure out whether what you’re doing today is relevant to what you want to achieve. The second reason why a mission statement is helpful is because it’s hard to make things happen when you don’t know what you really want! To get things done, you have to start with the end in mind, & a personal mission statement will help support your goals in a wonderful way.
If a “personal mission statement” sounds too heavy, you have my — our — your own — permission to call it something else. A statement of intent. A manifesto. Your quest, on paper. A vision communiqué. A declaration of fabulousness!
I will be the first person to say that a personal Mission Statement lands on the ears a little hokily. I mean what kind of person am I to have a damned mission? Missions are for unmanned drones and international spies and Mormons. And it sounds a little "Successories" for my taste. But then, what kind of life am I living without one? There's something very appealing about the idea of a life lived with purpose.

I know...plenty of people are living lives of extraordinary purpose without the aid of Mission Statements; they have internalized their goals and --consciously or not--make even the smallest of life's decisions with the achievement of those goals in mind.

I'm not there yet.

Until two years ago I didn't even know I was CAPABLE of setting a goal and seeing in through! So I like thought of having something concrete to focus on and refer back to. And I think I will opt to call mine a "manifesto" as Ms. Darling has so cheekily suggested.

I looked over a number of examples from a link her blog provided and was quickly brought to tears of inspiration. People have identified scores of meaningful life goals and deeply loving outlooks, ways to go about approaching each day. Take this, for just *one* example: "I want to make everyone feel welcome in my presence, and yet retain my strength and individuality."

Again I was overwhelmed.

So I took to the clean-surfaced kitchen table with paper and pen to regroup and identify some worthy-of-a-Mission-Statement goals of my own.

Here's what I (eventually) came up with:
I demonstrate and live in accordance with my deep respect for the complexity of others' stories and life circumstances, the precious nature of all of life's resources, and the brevity of this human, on earth experience.
I remember that laughter and the connecting of spirits are what bring me the most joy and I live each day expecting and and engendering both.
I know that I am most fulfilled when I show deference to my goals and those of others.
I believe with conviction that in every moment, I alone can dictate my experience, my outlook, and my state of mind.
I take action on fulfilling the dreams I dream; I am a launcher and a carrier-through.
I remain a firm humanist, believing in the goodness of my fellow men and women, resisting the urge to spread negative information about others, and consistently showing supportive enthusiasm for their successes.
I use my ability to communicate to uplift and spread joy. I write because I am most gratified when doing so on a regular basis.
 I live in a financially responsible manner and believe I am worthy of the wealth I continue to cultivate.
I actively seek to do work that is fulfilling and strive to make my time spent at work meaningful.
I am quick to understand and forgive; I question my own motives before questioning those of others.
While welcoming the experience of knowing all kinds of people, I surround myself most closely with other positively minded individuals who are looking to build-up, support, act in kindness and morality toward, and love their fellow humans.

In case it wasn't abundantly clear, this Mission Statement represents the ideal of all circumstances. This is who I envision myself to be when I am at my absolute best, my most awakened. These points are stated in present tense because I'm a subscriber to the "act as if" principal, card-carrying member of the "fake it 'til you make it" club.

In other words, I'm working on it, people.

It feels good to be working on self-improvement and to have my very own manifesto to look to and compare notes against. It is bound to change over time as my priorities shift and things that didn't seem so important before suddenly are, and vise-versa. But putting this into words is a good step for the present...a good way to kick off a brand new year.

So (and because my man and I have been on a 10-day Breaking Bad bender), I ask you:

What's your mission, yo?!

Kevin's Sketch


A dukun is an Indonesian shaman that is capable of accessing realms of the supernatural or of 'the other', usually in order to heal or receive direction for the seeker.

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