There is a story made famous in the book: “Think and Grow Rich,” describing a gold miner who dug and dug and dug looking for gold. He gave up and sold the land to someone who within one day, dug a little deeper and found the layer of gold. This story is used to support the idea that we need to persevere toward our goals and never give up. If a door is closed – bang it down! But, is this the right idea? Does it really work? What is assumed in this story, without question, is the goal to “get the gold.” In other words, the purpose of life is to get what we want, and if we want gold, or to make a sale, or to find a spouse, then all we need to do is persevere. But, this does not work. And, many of us spend whole lifetimes pursuing “getting what we want,” and ending up unfulfilled and unhappy. Even if we “get what we want,” in the form of material goods, a spouse, and career success, there is still dissatisfaction.
On the other hand, “giving up,” doesn’t work either. Both ideas: “giving up” and “persevering” are reactions to wanting something. We can either “give up” wanting and feel deprived, or “persevere” toward getting what we want and be agitated that we don’t have it yet.
While I was not present when the first gold miner gave up, nor was I there when the second miner found the gold, I suspect what is missing from the story is the mental climate that was present. For each, this was a moment in a larger story of their life journey. For all we know, the miner that “gave up” discovered something more fulfilling and meaningful, and the miner that “found the gold” may have succumbed to a life filled with fear of losing his fortune.
Often, when one does "let go" of pursuing a non-fruitful endeavor, a realization of greater meaning, direction and purpose of their life unfolds.
The purpose of life is not to get what we want. Pursuing our "wants" by definition, means a life spent in pursuit of a fantasy future.
The purpose of life is to wake-up from living a life based on what we've been conditioned to, and become aware of who and what we are in the eternal now.
Waking-Up occurs in consciousness. We can become interested in what is "really going on," and the gift of awareness will come. It may come with either a major or minor shift in the circumstances of our lives, but who cares? Getting on the right track is worth any price.