a vestige of thought...
Monday, December 12, 2005
The Purpose Driven Life
Apparently I have a "thing" for life purposes. I hadn't thought about it until it was pointed out to me today, but I've discovered that purpose has become a theme in many of my writings, especially in my journal. Though I never realized it before, I have little sympathy or tolerance for people who are not making the most of their lives. A person with purpose does not have to be making millions, searching for cancer cures, writing the next Pulitzer winning novel or saving orphans in China. They must, however, have a good reason to get up in the morning.
I have seen people in all walks of life living with and without purpose. Take, for example, "lifers" at fast food restaurants. Before I started working at Chick-Fil-A I was under the impression that all lifers were people who had more or less given up on existence. In some cases this is true. I work with a girl from a [relatively] stable home life who wanted her own apartment, wanted to own everything money could by and didn't want to think hard enough to finish high school. So she dropped out and now works full time at Chick-Fil-A and part time at another store to support her "dream" lifestyle. Every time I work I hear about the emptiness that this life of pleasure gives her. Now, at 20, she's pretty much given up hope of doing anything with her future besides frying chicken and going to night clubs. The only reason she gets out of bed in the morning is so that she can make enough money to give her a temporary spending high and pay for a bed to fall into at the end of the long, meaningless day.
On the other hand, there are plenty of fast food lifers who live with purpose. One of my managers has been in fast food for as long as anyone now working there can remember. She's a little pessimistic sometimes, but she has a sense of humor and a family she loves and is proud of and, I believe, enjoys supporting. Certainly there are better circumstances she'd rather be enjoying, but she successfully makes the most of what she's been given. (As a bit of an aside, a few weeks ago this manager, who in spite of herself is often in the 'Christmas spirit,' bought Santa and elf hats for all the employees to go with her own, very humorous, 'bah humbug' hat.)
Ann, a 30-something slightly mentally handicapped woman, is another purposeful person. She has worked part time at Chick-Fil-A for 7 or 8 years and loves it. She has lots of friends and enjoys many non-work activities. (Among other things, I believe she's now a brown belt in Tae-Kwan-Do.) She is always willing to help out and is rarely without a laugh or a smile. Far too many such handicapped persons get stuck in a dead life. While it is unfortunate that Ann is not able to function as well as most people, no one can say that she is purposeless.
A purposeful life has meaning not only for the person living it, but also for others. It is a life with a focus. From a Christian perspective, Christ is the ideal life focus. For others, that focus may be any number of things (fame, money, happiness, etc in whatever specific form such things take on for each person). I would like to point out that purpose does not equal contentment (though that is a topic for another time). In conclusion, all lives with purpose require attention to something beyond oneself. A life that is primarily inward focused is meaningless and leaves a person feeling empty; it is also a life that cannot be beneficial to anyone else.
"What will you do with the time that's left?
Will you live it all with no regrets?
Will they say that you loved till your final breath?
What will you do with the time..."
~The Time That is Left, Mark Schultz
128. My Latin teacher gave me a cool text book today to aid me in my over-achieving. Hehe.
129. Tea, British style
130. My Utmost for His Highest (I know, I've said that one already, but it's worth repeating)
131. The way the air feels so crisp and clean in the winter