Normalcy. While it is a beautiful thing, norms come and go in my life with no regularity whatsoever. Yet, as usual, this week my brain is working overtime. I have been obsessed with the songs from the musical “Avenue Q.” It is a really quirky and fun group of Muppet-like characters that sing primarily about societal issues. They address sexuality, racism, and life in general. One of their songs is called “Purpose.” The lyrics are comical: “Purpose, it’s that little flame, that lights a fire under your ass. Purpose, it keeps you going strong, like a car with a full tank of gas.” This character goes on to question what his purpose is and how he is going to find it. And wham, just like that, I am obsessed.
So, I wonder. Are we born with just one purpose and does that purpose follow us throughout our lives? Or do we have many purposes throughout our lifetime? Now, this could get really deep, really fast, but I am not talking about the passions we embrace along our journey. I am talking about that single underlying purpose that perpetuates our every thought, our every action.
Some might believe it is parenthood – expanding our humanity to assure procreation of the human race. Others might think it is spiritually based – preserving our divine presence across a multitude of belief systems worldwide. There would always be a case for educationists – growing and shaping our youth to build bigger and better generations to come. And what about the brainiac intellectuals? Those gifted individuals identify, evaluate, and improve life-sustaining actions, systems, and philosophies. I know this list is endless but think about it. What were you born to do?
One could argue we all have the capacity for all of the above. I tested in the 98th percentile for science achievement on my SATs. I have no interest in science, never did, and no idea how that could have happened. But did my aptitude for science somehow identify the direction my purpose was meant to go? We all know there are scientists that would never be effective educators and vice versa. I am just digging a big black hole here, aren’t I? Waiter – more wine, please - and just leave the bottle!
There are also purposes that are more internally driven. Maybe purpose revolves around personal growth, personal lessons to be learned. I have always been an overachiever. Sometimes I achieve my goal; other times I do not but it is never for lack of effort. Nevertheless, I am always driven to be the best, the most loved, the most important, and the sincerest person I can be. Sounds like a U.S. Army commercial, doesn’t it? But it is true. It is who I am, who I have always been.
Over the years I believe my purpose for being is indisputable. It would take a handful of blogs to prove my point, but my lesson this lifetime is to learn that overachieving is futile. I cannot always be the best, the most loved, the most important person. I must always do my best but accept the fact that no matter what I do, sometimes I will not succeed. Believe it or not, that realization is a salvation of sorts. I have never felt more secure in my purpose: Care, believe, and pursue no matter the outcome.
I warned my brain was in overdrive this week. I am actually smiling because of it though. If I can urge even one person to stop for just a minute to think about purpose, I know the world would be a better place. One simple change in a belief system can return monumental rewards. Being a better person is the first step. Is there any chance I am a better person because I think I know my purpose? I am indisputably confident I am not smart enough to answer that question. Ah, but that is fodder for yet another rant.
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Jacque Jarrett Stratman