I used the word “passion” approximately 4,519 times in my last blog post. So, finally reading a story on a tab I had open for weeks was coincidental and timely. It was called: “7 Strange Questions That Help You Find Your Life Purpose.”
Part of the problem is the concept of “life purpose” itself. The idea that we were each born for some higher purpose and it’s now our cosmic mission to find it. This is the same kind of shitty logic used to justify things like spirit crystals or that your lucky number is 34 (but only on Tuesdays or during full moons).
Here’s the truth. We exist on this earth for some undetermined period of time. During that time we do things. Some of these things are important. Some of them are unimportant. And those important things give our lives meaning and happiness. The unimportant ones basically just kill time.
So when people say, “What should I do with my life?” or “What is my life purpose?” what they’re actually asking is: “What can I do with my time that is important?”
This totally nails a thought I’ve been having over the last few years. I’m all for believing that we each have a unique “purpose.” But I also think we play a large role in creating our own purposes, whether intentional or not. I don’t think we’re born with them.
As the quote above says, we have one life to live and we don’t know how long it will last. With that in mind, we might as well live it up while trying to do things we are passionate about and somehow benefitting the rest of the world.
I strongly urge you to read the actual link in its entirety because it’s awesome, but here’s a TL;DR version of the 7 questions the author poses:
- What’s your favorite flavor of shit sandwich and does it come with an olive?
- What is true about you today that would make your 8-year-old self cry?
- What makes you forget to eat and poop?
- How can you better embarrass yourself?
- How are you going to save the world?
- Gun to your head, if you had to leave the house all day, every day, where would you go and what would you do?
- If you knew you were going to die one year from today, what would you do and how would you want to be remembered?
I realize there are a lot of references to poop and death and crying but I promise there’s some sound advice all up in there.
For instance, a “shit sandwich” is something that everyone has to eat at some point. The author is essentially saying that anything worth devoting time and effort to will take sacrifice in some form. Writing, for me, isn’t all that lucrative and the rejected-to-accepted ratio isn’t exactly in my favor. Despite that, I love doing it. That’s the shit sandwich I’ve chosen to eat, but at least it comes with an olive.
The meanings of the rest of those questions are relatively straightforward but again, I suggest reading the whole article. I want to skip to the final question: if you had one year to live, what would you do? How would you want to be remembered?
That ties into the section of the article I quoted above. Maybe we all do have a “purpose” in life. But is that pre-ordained, or do we create the purpose? And is there really much of a point to spending the precious, limited time we have living on shit that doesn’t matter?
If you’re spending those limited days on the daily grind of life just to make the next payment deadline, are you really having fun? Are you pursuing passions? Making a difference? Before you answer, think about these questions in the eternal context.
Is it all worth it? Is it worth spending decades in a corporate job to make the money you’re supposed to make so you can pay the bills you’re forced to pay? Or is it better to discover and pursue your passions and do things that actually matter in the long run? What will bring you fulfillment at the end?
Maybe this doesn’t apply to everyone, but for those who are actively seeking their “purpose” in life or aren’t sure that what they currently do with their time is what they are meant to be doing, it’s worth thinking about.
Find (or re-discover) the things that make you lose track of time. Don’t be afraid to be judged for doing said things, even if they aren’t “normal” by someone else’s standard. Find a cause you believe in that will help the world at large – then fight for it.
Most importantly, don’t let days pass you by. We have a finite amount of time in our lives, and you don’t want to look back and regret how much time you wasted accumulating money or working a job you hated.
When I got home from my trip last year, I was so invigorated by this realization that being happy and helpful and fulfilled was really all that mattered. I’ve transitioned to full-time freelance writing, re-entered the world of baseball, and started focusing on doing things that make me happy. I travel more. I write more. I go to more live music shows. I volunteer more of my time.
I feel like I’ve spent this last year or so finally doing things that I’m passionate about. Things that matter to me and some that help others. And I can revel in that on a daily basis and look forward to having no regrets whenever it all ends.
Speaking of ending, I’ll finish this blog with the most clichéd cliché to ever cliché, but it sums up the point: live each day like it’s your last. You never know when it will all be over, and there’s more to your life and your legacy than 40 hours per week and a 401K.
What can you do with your life that is actually important? Well, how about creating your purpose and exhausting yourself in the pursuit of it?
What are you waiting for?