Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Expanding on my previous post (The Open Road?), I believe it is important to identify why the uncertainty before me on my path is so unnerving. Certainly if anyone looks far enough ahead, they won't be able to see what is coming. This is a circumstance that affects each and every one of us, and is a natural part of our humanity. Do not think that I wish to know the future. Rather, I wish to know which path on the Open Road to take. This is quite often unclear.
The problem is purpose. "It is purpose that pulls us, that guides us, that drives us. It is purpose that defines us." Without purpose, there is no reason to wake up in the morning. Without purpose, there is no reason to be. I need a reason to get up in the morning; otherwise, it is too easy to sleep until noon and accomplish nothing during the day. It is too easy to sit at my desk from 8 to 5, five days out of seven, and let that be my life's work. If 8 to 5 becomes my life's work, I will be ashamed of myself. If I define myself by my job, I will want nothing to do with myself.
You are not your job. Et cetera.
Throughout my life, I have always been able to identify a purpose for myself. I gave my best effort in high school in order to give myself a better chance at being accepted into my dream college. Whether it was sports, academics, clubs or student government, I pushed myself to excel and involved myself extensively in order to build a college resume. Certainly college wasn't my only motive for the things I did in high school, but it was a significant driver behind every decision. Having accomplished that goal, my purpose became developing as a person and expanding myself while working to graduate from the University. Thus far, this goal is well in hand and right on schedule. My GPA might not be as high as I would like, but it is good enough. I spent four months overseas, learning new things about the world and myself in equal parts. I have met new people, studied new subjects, placed myself in situations that were previously foreign to me. I am well on my way to fulfilling that purpose.
But what after that? What becomes my purpose? It could be to get a job, to become a self-sustaining individual. It could be finding a cause with which to dedicate myself. It could be to find someone to love and learn from, and to build a life together with them. It could be all of these in some combination. But I do not know. If someone were to ask me what my purpose is going to be after I graduate, I would not have an answer. "I don't know" is the best I could do. The uncertainty that scares me is the ambiguous nature of my future purpose.
I have written before about my search for a cause that I am passionate about. I believe that may be my purpose right now; aside from finishing school, finding a job, etc. - my purpose might be to find the cause I am willing to fight for. I am in no hurry to find my future partner in life. I am not willing to commit to someone in that way just yet. But I want to improve the world I live in. I want to leave my mark. I am afraid of looking back on my life and wondering what my purpose was, wondering if I created or inspired positive change in this world, wondering if I affected any person's life. I am scared to death of looking back and being dissapointed.
I am looking for my purpose. As I (and Don Miller) have written before, sometimes you need to see someone love something or be passionate about it before you can love it or be passionate about it. I would love to hear about your passions. I would feel blessed to know what drives you. Maybe you are looking for purpose as well. Perhaps we can find it together.
And so on...