I think we spend a lot of time focused on what our purpose in life is supposed to be. We are each searching for the ONE thing that we are supposed to do that will bring us the ultimate in life-long happiness.
Unfortunately, the contention associated with searching for ONE ultimate purpose implies that one’s reason for being is somewhere off in the distant future, and we won’t be happy until then!
This is what I thought anyway.
I certainly did a ton of soul searching, contemplating, and handwringing, trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I felt that if I could just reach that far off destination called “purpose” that I would have found my Eden, Shangri-La, bliss.
As it turns out, I don’t think it really works quite like that.
I’m still not even completely sure what my so-called purpose is supposed to be, plus, I’m starting to believe that there isn’t just ONE calling on my life.
For example, look at all the people we’re familiar with who’ve worked other jobs or had different careers before they switched to doing the thing they are currently known for:
- Martha Stewart – worked on Wall Street before her success came after age 41 with the publication of her first book, Entertaining, and the launch of Martha Stewart Living seven years later.
- Joy Behr – this former co-host on The View, was a high school English teacher who didn’t launch her show business career until after age 40.
- Vera Wang – was first known as an accomplished figure skater and a fashion editor before deciding, at age 40, that she wanted to be a designer.
- Tim and Nina Zagat – this husband and wife team had each turned 42 before they gave up their legal careers to write their first restaurant guides. Their eponymous company is part of Google now.
- Harlan Sanders – Mr. KFC himself, Colonel Sanders didn’t franchise Kentucky Fried Chicken until he was 65.
- Duncan Hines – at age 73, licensed the right to use his name to the company that developed Duncan Hines cake mixes.
- Charles Darwin – was 50 years old before he published On the Origin of the Species.
- Samuel Jackson – was 46 years old (and in recovery from addiction to cocaine and heroin) before his breakout role starring alongside John Travolta in Pulp Fiction.
- Morgan Freeman – had is breakout year at age 52.
- Sam Walton – opened the first true Wal-Mart in 1962, when he was 44.
- Julia Child – her first cookbook was published when she was 39; she made her television debut in The French Chef at age 51.
- Ray Kroc – was 52 when he bought the first McDonald’s in 1961.
- Henry Ford – was 45 when he built the Model T.
- Stan Lee – helped to create the entire Marvel Universe at age 44.
- Ang Lee – was a stay-at-home dad before becoming a prominent movie director at 41.
Now you know I’m feeling Ang Lee right? As a stay-at-home turned work-from-home dad, I can totally relate to him and all the others as well – I didn’t publish my first picture book, The Girl Who Carried Too Much Stuff, until I was 43.
I’m not saying that we have to go out and attempt to do “great” things to have a purpose-filled life. For all of my wondering about what I’m supposed to do with the time given to me, the most important purpose I’ve ever had was to be a father to my 3 daughters!
“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
Searching for a single purpose can drive us crazy (and waste a lot of time). So I would argue that we could chose to be less concerned with finding a purpose, and maybe be more focused on just being plain old useful.
Are we doing useful things in our lifetime that make a difference?
We don’t have to concern ourselves with writing a great novel, winning an Oscar, building an international conglomerate, or even changing the world. We could direct our focus toward making this world just a little better than we found it.
For example, here’s a list of 10 of the 50 Small Ways You Can Help Make the World a Better Place:
- Volunteer for a cause
- Give an elderly person some of your time.
- Cook someone a hearty meal, either in person or leave it on their door step
- Give someone a hug
- Travel respectfully
- Compliment someone on how they look
- Declutter and donate
- Treat everyone the way you would like to be treated
- Be kind to yourself and learn to look after and love yourself.
Currently I’m in my lmid to late 40s and I still don’t fully know what I want to be when I grow-up, but ultimately my purpose is to strive to be my authentic self and be useful along the way.
“The purpose of life is to contribute in some way to making things better.”
“For all evils there are two remedies – time and silence.”
― The Count of Monte Cristo
In 2018, I was happy to have read 20 books – I’d planned to read more, but you know how that goes. Thank you, and NEXT! It’s time to look toward fresh horizons.
Ah, nothing like the beginning of a new year where every crack and crevice seems to abound with the feeling of renewed hope and promise.
Now that 2019 is underway, it’s time for a brand-new family reading challenge. And I’m so excited to break the seal on this annual endeavor, that I already have my first 3 books picked out.
Last year I kicked the year off with a classic that I hadn’t read before, The Great Gatsby. First out the gate this year will be another classic that, according to Luc Sante, “has become a fixture of Western civilization’s literature, as inescapable and immediately identifiable as Mickey Mouse, Noah’s flood, and the story of Little Red Riding Hood.” – The Count of Monte Cristo.
I’ve never read this one before because it wasn’t required reading for me in school and believe it or not, I wasn’t much of a reader growing up. However, as with most classic novels, I’ve seen the movie! 🙂
I’m looking forward to reading this story that includes such themes as power and powerlessness, vengefulness and forgiveness; written by a celebrated author of African descent, Alexandre Dumas.
Dumas, was the son of General Thomas-Alexandre Dumas, a black man born to a French nobleman and Marie-Cessante Dumas, a slave of African descent. Thomas-Alexandre Dumas, ascend to the highest ranks of the French military during that country’s revolution. It’s said that the book was inspired by the life of Dumas’ father. You can read about this here, at Harvard Magazine.com.
Waiting in queue, are the two other selections I plan to get into next:
For One More Day
“A beautiful, haunting novel about the family we love and the chances we miss.”
“For One More Day is the story of a mother and a son, and a relationship that covers a lifetime and beyond. It explores the question: What would you do if you could spend one more day with a lost loved one?”
Brave New World
“Brave New World, is one of the most bewitching and insidious works of literature ever written.”
That’s what I have on tap so far and I’ll let you know my thoughts on these titles when I wrap!
And someone else has already gotten into the swing of things. Journey has already completed her first book of 2019:
Adventures of Frog and Toad
“I am happy. I am very happy. This morning when I woke up I felt good because the sun was shining. I felt good because I was a frog. And I felt good because I have you as a friend.”
― Days with Frog and Toad
Journey and I read this one together (she read it to me while I listened), about 15 minutes over the course of about 3 days. Not only was it a good book, but this also helps to strengthen her reading skills and it was an opportunity for us to spend a little time together. This years challenge is for everyone to shoot for 40 books.
Thinking of starting your own family reading challenge? Here are 15 Creative Ways to Get Your Kids Reading.
Hit me up and let me know what’s on your reading list this year.
This Weeks Pics
Hey, Marc! I was catching up on your Monday Barrage posts — always fun to see what’s on your mind and what you and your crew have been up to… What a neat surprise to scroll and discover the pics of my book. Thanks, my friend!
Thank you my friend!