Thursday, March 13, 2008

Purpose





Meeting his eyes with my own, I smiled and said, "Well then, today, I have served my purpose."

* * * * * * *

Our offices are side by side. He is a coworker, and becoming a friend. We notice when the other is not quite up to par. We exchange the usual office banter on a daily basis, and both of us drink way too much coffee, often grumbling over who had to make the last pot. On a few rare occasions we share special moments at the end of the day, and, our conversations take a more personal turn. We speak of our different philosophies on life, relationships, ourselves. In some ways we are quite similar, in others very different.

Our similarities have only become known through our few in-depth conversations. We are both introspective...to a fault at times. We are both prone to falling into depression, especially in regard to our own failings, our own self-critiques. We both treasure solitude, books, art, analyzing humanities foibles, poetry, and finding ways to express ourselves. He is an artist, spending hours each evening after work drawing. We are both shy by nature, although I am better at hiding my own shyness. He has begun journaling his life, his thoughts, his fears, his losses, and his dreams. I have done that for more than half of my life. Funnily enough...though I shouldn't have been surprised...he too was once married to a person who needed to be "in control" of their life, and him.

At some point as we were speaking of our rather negative experiences through out the lives we have led, and within our marriages themselves, I voiced one of my truisms, "In my life, especially as a child, I experienced a lot of negative things, and ended up living a different life than I ever imagined I would. But, I do have to say, there is not a single bad thing that has happened in my life that I can't find something positive which was a direct result of that very negativity."

He gave me a rather puzzled look, and with surprise in his voice asked, "You really believe that?"

"Yes. I do. Everything that has ever happened to me, helped to form who I am, how I view the world. And, even though I have a lot of things I'd like to change about myself...the basic me of who I am...I like her."

He smiled, "Good for you."

Anyway, today's conversation meandered along, covering various subjects, but there was a common theme. Life, how we each view it, how we learn, grow, and sometimes are changed from our varied experiences.

We spent some time speaking of his youthful infatuation with Kierkegaard, he spoke of how his readings, and interpretations of Kierkegaard's abstractions have affected his outlook on life in general. As a very young man, he accepted Kierkegaard's writings as the ultimate truth, and now feels that his pessimistic view point on life was colored by this early infatuation of his. One of Kierkegaard's most oft repeated aphorisms really does describe this new friend of mine. "The thing is to find a truth which is true for me, to find the idea for which I can live and die." Yet, he fears he will never find this truth.

Our conversation soon segued into purpose...life's purpose. He feels he hasn't found his purpose in life, and fears he never will.

I of course had to express my own viewpoint, which is, "I believe we serve many purposes in this life we lead. Sometimes they may seem so very insignificant, at other times our purpose becomes glaringly obvious. There are times I even ask myself, what purpose does my being in this situation, or involved with this person serve? I always find a purpose that satisfies me. Each day in my job, I serve a purpose, I suggest options for someone in the midst of a crisis. Sometimes I can only listen. Like today, I listened to a woman who is barely functioning, she can do no more...I just listened, for almost two hours I listened, when she left here, she felt better. I served a purpose. As a mother, raising my children, even though I feel in many ways I failed, I still served a purpose, as did they, we have taught each other so much."

I then told him a very short story told by a 95 year old woman. "At the age of 87, this old woman felt she had reached the end of her life. She had fulfilled her purpose for being here on this planet, for being alive. She wasn't completely sure what that purpose had been, but she was satisfied, she had led a good life. Yet, there was one final thing she felt she needed to accomplish before the end of her life. She wanted to fly, she wanted to ride in an airplane. Eventually, her son bought her a private flight on a two seater plane, (of course, I can't remember what kind it was), she was high up in the sky enjoying the thrill of flying, when the pilot suddenly lost consciousness, he didn't respond to her calls. She had no idea what to do. But somehow, either through luck or by observing the pilot earlier, she turned on the radio, and was able to call for help. The air traffic controllers found another pilot to talk her through flying the plane, and most importantly landing it safely. The plane did not crash, they did not die, and the pilot lived to be a father to his children. She said, that is when she knew, really knew she had served her purpose, she was supposed to be on that plane to save his life.

I usually have a terrible memory, but for some reason, all of these years later, I still remember her story."

My coworker stood leaning against the door frame, thinking over all he just heard. Then said to me, "Humph, you've really given me some food for thought. Thanks."

You know my reply.

* * * * * * *

*blogger note* I saw a Bald Eagle soaring through the sky today...from that point on...I had a great day.




5 comments:

deb said...

Your story of the old woman gave me goose bumps. I think we have many purposes in life and I try to do something everyday to make the world a better place, even if it's only a smile.

S'mee said...

Back on form Sunny. A thought provoking post yet again.

Sunny Delight said...

deb,
I am sure there are parts of the story I haven't remembered correctly or completely, but it did stay with me. Purpose...so many different view points on it, and what it is/means.

I like taking it at its most simplest form...just as you say...a smile from a stranger may make someone's day.

s'mee,
Well, then, I have served a purpose ~smile~...

You dear man...show me on a regular basis what living a life of purpose is like...and always there is an optimism about your writing as well.

S'mee said...

I'm begining to find my limitations, but it's an age thing I think. It's all down hill after you reach 30. Just you wait till you get there Sunny ;-))

Jonas said...
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