Sunday, March 3, 2013

The Purpose of Life

I passed a sign today that said, "The purpose of life is to have a life of purpose." and while it sounds good to begin with, the more I examined that statement, the less I find that I agree with it.

Don't get me wrong, I think that having purpose in your life is an important thing, and that humanity loses its center when there is no purpose, both on an individual basis and a group basis.  There is a reason that the World War II generation is so often held up to us as a positive example, because they had purpose as individuals and as a society.  They used that purpose to forge themselves into an amazing force for great (and mostly good, with some glaring exceptions) changes in the world.

But overall, do I think that having a life of purpose is THE reason we are alive?  I'm not so sure of that.

You see, as I think about it more and more, I find that I believe our purpose in life is to live..  Not just to exist, or to go about our day to day routine in monotonous regularity without thinking about it, but to really and truly LIVE.  I think that we have a responsibility to ourselves to truly do our best to be fully in each moment.  I believe that we do ourselves a disfavour by letting so many moments pass without investing ourselves in them. 

It isn't easy to fully experience every moment.  Goodness knows I'm no expert at it.  I have way too many moments in my life that slip past me without me realizing it.  Time goes on its wibbly wobbly, timey wimey way and before I know it the day has passed and evening has come and I have let hours slip away without giving them the attention that they deserve.

How many times have you driven home from work, your mind on things like what you have to get done the next day and what you are going to make for dinner, only to find that you are pulling into the garage with little to no recollection of the actual drive there?  Have you ever looked up and realized that you were halfway to where you wanted to go, but had no recollection of driving the first half of the route?  I have done that often, and it startles me every time.

As a result of my realization I have been making a concerted effort to be more present in my life.  I try not to wish that time would pass more quickly so that I can get to some special moment because I honestly feel that every moment has its own glimmer of special if we can find it.  That is not to say that it is wrong to look forward to things, or to remember other things fondly, but rather that I want to experience each moment that I have, and to experience it fully and completely.  I may still look forward to a special moment, or even dread a moment that is coming up, but I do not want that anticipation to drown out the experiences that I have before the anticipated time arrives.

I wonder how it would change our lives and our worlds if we all spent more time in The Now, really letting each moment shine on its own, than we currently do.  I think about how perhaps there would be fewer accidents, fewer misunderstandings, and fewer hurt feelings or mis-spoken words.  I can't be sure, but I would like to think so, anyway.

For now, I encourage you to allow yourself to live in the moment more often.  Be aware of the future and of what has gone past, but give the weight of your attention to the moment and all that it encompassees.  I think that you will find it interesting, and that you will find that it gets easier as you go and hopefully, sometime soon, we will start to see the positive results of that effort.

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