A Life With Purpose

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I was in a bookstore Saturday and the title of a small book caught my attention.  The first line of the book’s title stated: “The Purpose of Life”.  That is pretty deep. Could the author actually deliver something thoughtful and irrefutable?   I had my doubts.  The second line of the title was equally interesting.  It simply stated: “A Life With Purpose.”  Put both concepts together and you have: “The Purpose Of Life Is A Life With Purpose”.

It was a curious title. I eagerly opened the book.  I have to tell you, “I was surprised by the contents”.  You might have been as well. The book was a calendar.  I didn’t see that coming.  The content for each day was a blank slate.

“The Purpose of Life Is A Life With Purpose”. How do you argue with that?  At the same time, how many people actually find it?  Each of us has both the privilege and opportunity to embrace life with purpose, but how do we discover the defining aspects of what should fill each day?

At the risk of exposing a character flaw, I have to confess that I am challenged by calendars.  In fact, I made a mess of mine so often last year that I decided to go back to carrying a paper calendar instead of relying on an electronic one. There was nothing wrong with the plan.  The difficulty surfaced when I failed to have my calendar with me at all times.  In an effort to chronicle necessary meetings, I went back to my smart calendar.  What I quickly discovered is that a man with two calendars has no calendar.  It’s like a man with two watches.  You never really know what time it is.

I like clocks.  I have three grandfather clocks in my home.  In addition, I have three other wind-up clocks.  I like the way they sound when they chime.  Consequently, each clock is set a little differently so I can get the full sensation of hearing each of the clocks chime.  The down side is that I never actually know the exact time.

My calendar is pretty much the same.  I blotch it all the time. I am just grateful that I’ve never missed a wedding or a funeral. Failure to show up for either of those occasions and you might be the subject of a lynch mob.  I sense folks could be pretty unforgiving if either of those venues were not embraced with all due respect.  Short of that, I’ve messed up nearly everything else.  I don’t always get it right and that is particularly true of calendars.

Several weeks ago, the General asked me to set aside this past Friday, November 6, to go with her to pick up the grandkids.  I assured her she could count on me.  As it turned out, she couldn’t count of me.  My reliability was flawed. I erroneously scheduled work interviews on that day and subsequently found that I could not mend the error of my ways.

When we mess up our use of time, we are in a world of difficulty because time waits for no man.  In addition, you can’t ask for a refund on time misused and there is no way to recover lost time. You can’t hit the rewind button on life and do it over again.  You can hit the reset button and choose to do life differently going forward, but you cannot rewind it and change the script previously played out.  Time is like water under a bridge, once it flows under the bridge, it is forever gone.

I don’t always get my calendar right.  Perhaps the same is true for you.  But if the purpose of life is a life with purpose, aren’t we obligated to get that part right? Like the book in the book store comprised of blank spaces, each of us has the privilege and responsibility to script our lives and embrace the day according to what we’ve been given.  We rely on our natural abilities, individual interests and sense of priorities in an effort to embrace the things that bring us joy and fulfillment.

Do you remember the movie “City Slickers?”  There is a scene from the movie that has stuck with me since the movie was released in 1991.  You didn’t ask, but in case you’re wondering, I didn’t like the movie.  It was a little too close to home.  Mitch (played by Billy Crystal) was 39 and in the midst of a mid-life crisis.  At the time the movie was released, I was 44 years old and struggling with the same issues.  It all related to filling up the blank pages of life’s calendar with that which has meaning and purpose. I wanted the assurance I was getting it right.

I, too, was struggling to answer the same question Curly (the seasoned cowhand) asked Mitch (the city slicker), “What’s the secret of life?  Mitch admitted he didn’t have the answer, but he wanted to know.  Curly held up one finger and said, “This”. Mitch responded, “Your finger?”  Curly held his ground, “One thing.  Just one thing.  You stick to that …”  Mitch asked, “What’s the one thing?”  Curly responded, “That’s what you’ve got to figure out.”

If you accept the premise that the purpose of life is a life with purpose, isn’t it incumbent on us to figure out the one thing that gives us a reason to get up in the morning and embrace the day with enthusiasm and joy?  I call that a soul function, yet many of us routinely ignore the fact our soul must be nourished.

Most of us are consciously more in tune with our level of physical fitness than we are with the fitness of our soul.  What about you?  Have you given any thought to the condition or status of your soul? The writer of Ecclesiastes obviously had given the issue much thought.  He writes,  “There is nothing better for a person than that he should make his soul enjoy good in his work”.  That carries with it the concept that “The Purpose Of Life Is A Life With Purpose.”  Consequently, I’m going to give it more thought.  How about you?

All My Best!

Don

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