According to Google (so we all know it's true) there have been 139,000 books written on how to find or live your life purpose. The Tao, Gandhi, Elkhart Tolle, and Rick Warren are just a few books and authors that come to mind. If we live life with some sort of awareness, we understand that gnawing feeling that makes you wonder if you're on the right path. I am no different.
I struggle to know the purpose for my life. My children are now grown and my life-purpose over the last 20 years has been fulfilled. I've read the books and done the workshops, yet I continue to look for something profound; something equally important as raising three little ones to adulthood. At times I think it is to write as I am continually drawn to do so, but I'm not sure. And then, life presented a new awareness to ponder.
A few weeks after being moved to a new location at work, an elderly man who sat near me in my previous location came to my cube. He was a gentle, quiet man who kept to himself much of the day but when he did speak, his words were deeply pondered and well-articulated thought. I could tell he wanted to talk, so I pulled up the rolling file cabinet with cushion top.
He sat down, took a deep breath and said, "I will be announcing today that I am retiring; but before I do, I wanted to reach out to the hand-full of people that have touched or enhanced my work life in a profound way". I was shocked. "Me, I'm one of those people", I spoke from unfiltered thought. He smiled and said, "yes, you are one of those people". I could feel the blush of discomfort rise through my body and flush my face like boiling water. I am honored, you make me feel special, I said to him. He smiled and in his gentle way and said,” You my dear are special, not only to me, but to many." I was completely floored. When did this happen, I questioned (this time only to myself) how am I special to many?
He paused and thanked me for the joy that exuded my spirit and likened it to magical fairy dust that everyone hoped would come to rest upon their shoulders. He shared with me that when I left my old area, as I strolled out of sight with all my belongings stacked on my desk chair, bopping along as if I were heading out on a wild adventure, someone said, "there goes our sunshine". He concluded, "Quite honestly, I couldn't have said it better". We parted with a slight hug and exchange of email addresses.
Wow, I thought, he said "touched my life in a profound way". Me? I started to wonder. Maybe purpose isn't always a loud bell ringing experience? Maybe just being ourselves is enough? Maybe at times it's about touching lives in moments that seem insignificant? Maybe at times, like a bumble bee that brings pollen from blossom to blossom, it's about being purposeful where you land and sharing what you've gained along the way. Maybe it's less about us as individuals and more about us as part of a greater whole? Maybe purpose isn’t always one thing, but a string of many? Just maybe.