“But, as you well know, appearances can be deceiving,
which brings me back to the reason why we’re here.
We’re not here because we’re free. We’re here because
we’re not free. There is no escaping reason; no denying
purpose. Because as we both know, without purpose,
we would not exist.”
Agent Smith – The Matrix: Reloaded
For many the search for the purpose or why we are here has dominated there lives and time, becoming a quest that has lasted through the ages. I am not presumptuous enough to declare I have the answer to this or even any sound theories… for I am on the same quest. Instead I am going to talk about finding purpose. Some will say we have a purpose in life that is left up to fate and impossible to escape. Others will say it is up to you to find your purpose, it is your choice, and that you make your purpose. From what ever perspective you may fall there is truth in both. Both camps agree there is purpose to life, and we may never know our exact purpose, whither it be procreation, saving the life of a great person, show a child how to do or not to do things, inspire fear, loyalty, or just inspiration. The greatest shame in life is to live without a purpose. Not just the wrong purpose but devoid of purpose entirely. Now some will say that is impossible. For your entire life I will agree, but too many I have observed live so much of there lives either without purpose or with completely selfish goals.
Living with purpose is different then living toward goals. Goals are steps; an end to meet that will get you closer to your ultimate objective. Living with purpose is to have a vision and to shape your actions and energies to match that vision as much as possible. Living with purpose is not a check list of things to do, but a philosophy to live by. It doesn’t need to be deep or profound, just something that feels right and is satisfying. This is very important, satisfaction that is. Living without taking satisfaction in your trade or self means your purpose is wrong. You will know this because it will feel wrong, things will always seem to go wrong or be out of focus. I am not saying we have to feel profound satisfaction, but at least know we are satisfied more often then not. Looking back and knowing you accomplished the one thing you can do better then those around you is what I am talking about. If you are not feeling this you need to evaluate what it is you are doing and why.
These last two questions are at the heart of this lesson. What are you doing? Why are you doing it? By answering these questions you should start to see the outline of the purpose you are living. This goes way beyond your job and to every task you partake. You should know why you are doing what ever it is you are doing, smoking, drinking a beer, sleeping, eating, composing a song, going to work, exercising, all of it. If you do not know why you are doing any of this… no one else will be able to or can tell you. You should know what exactly you are doing at all times and why. You should know what you spend your time on, as time is the most precious resources we will ever know. No matter what it is you do, spending your time on, make it worth the cost. Do every task as if it were truly important, for if it isn’t, why are you doing it in the first place? We all have tasks and choirs we do not like to do, I am not saying we do not have to do them, rather I am saying how we do these tasks is a reflection of our purpose and character more then how we do the tasks we enjoy. If we have to spend our time taking out the garbage, we might as well do it with the same purpose we spend on putting together the annual budget report or fixing the customer’s broken carburetor.
Living with a purpose is not a burden, you do not have to think about everything you do, but you should know why it is you have to do it and then you should do it to the best of your ability. Doing anything less is cheating yourself. And as we all know you will treat yourself better then you treat those around you… By doing the dishes with poor character and no purpose makes it easier to walk past the person struggling to open the door with an armload of packages. It makes it easier to do the thinks you would not be proud of if you seriously looked back on it. Living with purpose is living with honor. This is not to say all deeds and actions done through this are inherently honorable or good, but they are true to your purpose and inner self. For a thief can live to his purpose and perform his tasks honorably. This does not lesson the fact he is stealing, but it does mean he is living in such a way he can feel accomplishment in, not shame. Shame is the emotion we have that will inform us that we have faltered and strayed from our purpose.
Too many people today are in a state of existence, going through the motions, living without accomplishment and with shame. To many this is an acceptable existence for any number of reasons, whither it be a lack of self worth, constant belittling, laziness, or social distractions, it doesn’t matter as the results are the same. We must live with a purpose and with purpose. Having the ultimate vision of who we are and the self respect to do our tasks in such a way as to meet this vision. If you believe your purpose is to achieve happiness through material goods then by all means live toward that purpose. Do things that will reflect this in everything you do. As long as the purpose makes sense to you and there isn’t any shame in it then you are on your own path. Live it well, and with the purpose you can look back on and feel you did your best and to the best of your ability. Your purpose will shine through your actions and others will notice it and respect it, they might not like it, but they will respect it.
No one can tell you what your purpose is, just as they can’t tell you who you are supposed to be. You hold these answers. Whiter it be fate or your hard work the path of your purpose will intersect your life until you recognize it and start to follow it. You might stray far and wide before the next time you find it again it. It is necessary to try many things out to ensure, to your own satisfaction, you are on the correct and true path meant for you. In this life things will change, you will change, your surroundings will change, and your world will change… but your purpose should never change, and the purpose to which you live should never change as well. If you find your purpose to be a baker, shed the three piece suit and do things that reflect this purpose. Perform your tasks in such a way you know you did your best and strive to be the best baker you know. Hone and polish your craft in a dedicated manner. With purpose you are unstoppable. Remember I earlier stated the most unstoppable force was that of a determined mind. That determined mind has a clear purpose and that is working toward that purpose with purpose. That determined mind will not be sidetracked or distracted, it is focused. We can not focus our energies with out a target, a point, a destination.
Over the course of time many have looked for the purpose of us existing. These people will be looking for that answer for a very long time; many will never come close to finding an agreeable answer. For the rest of us we need to turn this quest inward. We need to look for the purpose of our lives. Whiter it be by fate or our own construction via choices we need to discover and verify our purpose. Finding purpose and living it is not the same as setting and completing goals. Goals are steps toward an accomplishment, purpose is knowing what you are supposed to be doing and living your life toward that purpose. By asking yourself what you are doing and why you are doing it you will discover many things about yourself. Always stay true to your purpose and do things to the best of your ability. Even doing menial tasks you must do them with purpose, else they are wasted time. Shame is a tool that will determine if you are on the right path, if you feel no shame you are on the right track. It does not matter what you do, as long as you are true to yourself, your purpose. Do not cheat yourself by half way doing any task, as cheating yourself will lead to cheating others and justifying less honorable paths and abandoning your purpose. Only you can find and maintain your purpose. Many things in life will change around you, even you will change… your purpose should not change, nor the purpose behind your actions. Others will be able to see the purpose, or lack of it, in all you do. Accomplishment is the reward for your purpose. In the end, when you look back there should be no shame, but instead a knowing that in your life you did the best you could and met your purpose with honor and commitment.