Have you ever met people who knew exactly what they wanted to do with their life? I have a friend who I met when we were just teenagers. It was so apparent to me he was meant to create music. I remember sitting in the music room where I pretended I could harmonize, watching my friend light up while he sang and went against the grain. It was so clear who he was going to be in that moment.
That same year, I spent an entire weekend forcing a thought on what I should do with my life. If I racked my brain any harder I’m sure I would’ve popped a blood vessel (it’s still up for debate if I did). All I could come up with was generic answers about changing the world. I was disappointed and frustrated in myself that I couldn’t figure it out.
A few years ago I had a particularly intense year of work and decided to take a solo vacation. (One of the perks of being a single working woman.) As an extrovert, taking a week to not talk to a soul was a new experience for me. My mind would wander most at night, when I’d sneak down to the beach and lay in the cool sand watching the moon shimmy behind the floating clouds. I wrote, and I thought a lot, hoping I’d get the answer to the question that still miffed me, “What am I supposed to do with my life?”
You never forget the moment the purpose giver speaks to the purposeful. It wasn’t a glamorous moment. In fact, I almost missed it. I had come from the bathroom to walk down the stairs to play a pick up game of volleyball when the thought brushed quietly through my mind – your greatest purpose is to love.
How simple? How broad? Isn’t that even cliché? I knew that I was to love, but when I stopped to really think about it I realized how revolutionary that thought was. My whole life I was looking for something totally different. I was looking for significance in doing something. Although if our purpose is to love, then being an artist, a mother, or a mayor is a way to express and give it. We certainly can do all those things that we are gifted at well, but without love we won’t feel fulfilled in our purpose. And who knows maybe you are so gifted, you may just change those avenues a few times in your lifetime.
Here’s the truth: Our purpose isn’t to prove the value of our existence by doing things. Our purpose is acknowledging the value of our existence by loving. At the end of my life, I don’t think I’ll ask if I got it all right, but I’m certain I’ll reflect back and wonder if I loved well.