Sunday, December 30, 2007

Our Purpose In Life

Yesterday I received the following email.

I have a question that might be something you could address in your daily thoughts sometime. Do you believe everyone on this earth has a purpose? If you do, how does one go about finding this purpose? I know several people who are asking "why am I here?" because they cannot seem to find the reason.

I do believe that everyone on this earth has a purpose. Some will find their purpose, others will not. A few choose evil instead of doing good. Most of us will not be well known figures who change the course of history although some of us might be. I have known some individuals who have affected the lives of thousands if not millions of people. All of us, however, have the ability to affect those around us. How we do that is part of the mystery of who we are and why we are here. This idea is the whole point of the traditional Christmas movie entitled "It's a Wonderful Life". In the movie a suicidal man, with the help of a angel, learns how he impacted the lives of those around him and how life would have turned out if he hadn't been around. Some of us have wonderful gifts or talents for the benefit of others while some may feel rather ordinary and think they have nothing to offer. For most of us our purpose is to be who we are and to let our uniqueness speak for itself. Most of my life I have felt very ordinary. I was never the smartest kid in school or the best player on the team. I never felt I had any special gift or talent. In worldly terms I have not achieved great success. To use the words from a Pink Floyd song, I sometimes felt like "another brick in the wall". I never had low self esteem but I didn't think I was anything special. I probably felt like this until I got into my forties. At some point in that decade of my life I began to realize who I was. Now I didn't just wake up one morning with that realization. I was doing what some people call their "inner work". In simple terms this "inner work" involved a combination of psychological and spiritual study and personal insight. I wasn't in therapy but I was on a quest and a spiritual journey and I was searching for meaning in my life. My self discovery really opened me up to accepting....and loving...who I am. Later, when I hit my fifties, and I came out of my self a little bit, I started realizing that many people seemed to really like me. People were attracted to me. They started telling me their problems and often listened to my counsel. I began sending out my daily thoughts and, much to my surprise, they became very popular with many people. Strangers and friends began telling me how much I had enriched their lives. I still feel pretty ordinary, and I am not without issues and needs, but some people think I am a very unique and interesting person. I don't completely know why but I am starting to understand that perhaps my purpose in life is to simply be myself and share who I am with other people through writing and speaking. So, I will continue being a contemplative, a Zen practitioner, a rock and roller, an aging hippie, and a flawed man who's favorite purpose in life is being Pa Paw to a little girl named Chloe. Every person's journey is unique. I don't know if you find your purpose in life so much as it finds you. It's also an evolving thing. I now have a sense of my purpose in life but I do not think it is complete yet. Life is a mystery so I am not sure where it will lead me for the remainder of my days. If you do not have a sense of purpose in your life, be patient. I doubt if many people have a strong sense of purpose when they are very young or if you never look within yourself introspectively. I think insight and a sense of purpose comes with age and maturity and the wisdom that can only be obtained by living. It's not about education or knowledge, or job titles. I am often amazed by the variety of people and their different professions read my daily thoughts. On a bad day when I am struggling to write something for my daily thoughts, I wonder "what the heck do I know about anything"? Then, later in the day, I will get an email telling me that I said exactly what someone needed to hear that day and I know it's part of my purpose in life to write these daily thoughts. Your purpose will come to you. Be ready when it finds you. Your purpose may be something you do for others as a service but it can also be your personality or attitude or caring spirit. Your smile may be the light that illuminates another's darkness. When you are united with your purpose, it will burn inside you, and you will know what it is.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

i think it's quite brave of you to ask the forbidden question, "what's our purpose in life?" different faiths have opposing views and each one of us believes our life purpose is different and enigmatic, but come to think of it, the purpose of living is so simple that it causes chaos! i think that our purpose in life is ultimately happiness... not contentment, but pure happiness! i stumbled upon your blog accidently but everything happens for a reason, and maybe you did find your purpose in life after all: to continue writing fascinating entries as interested people such as myself continue to log on and read what you have to say! thank you for the beautiful insight!