I was pondering my life recently and I came to an exceptionally insightful conclusion. What I realized is that a large part of our existence as human beings is seeking for purpose in the things we do. As a young adult, I have decided that this is certainly the most difficult stage of life I have experienced yet, and I admit that I have not handled it as well as I otherwise could have, should have, or would have liked to. As I was analyzing the winding path I have taken these past few years, I realize that each choice I have made was actually driven by a desire for greater purpose. That being said, these decisions ultimately resulted in a perpetuated lack or misunderstanding of what purpose actually means to me.
I decided to withdraw from classes this semester and take some time off from school. The short story is that I was not in tune with what my academic discipline was exactly and how it applied to what I ultimately want to be and accomplish. I was not finding value in my courses of study. I was not finding purpose in anything that I was pursuing – or not pursuing – depending on how you look at it. Because of not being in school and still being out on my own, it’s obvious for me to say that outside of my regular work day I have a lot of time on my hands. I was contemplating ways that I could fill this excess of time as well as why I have so much of it. While doing so I also realized some things that I found to be particularly notable in relation to my thoughts on purpose.
I was having a conversation with my roommate who is, like I was for so many years in my youth, pursuing music as a major of study and career. When I was a youth, music provided me every bit of purpose I needed to feel accomplished and directed in my young life. When one decides to pursue music, there is always something to do because your abilities can always be improved. You can always be practicing, playing, writing, arranging, transposing, listening, rehearsing, performing, watching, reading, and talking about music. If a musician ever finds himself with some down time, he is in some ways obligated to rid himself of it, pick up an instrument, and do something to get better and get closer to achieving his goals. This is the sense of purpose that I am talking about. This is what I experienced for so long when I was younger. I rarely recall having nothing to do. Believe me, there were times that I didn’t do anything, but that does not mean that there wasn’t something that I could have been doing. I often find myself envious of my roommate because he seems to find and have a lot of purpose in what he is doing. He wants to be a good musician, so he does music. All the time.
Another example is that of being a missionary in the mission field. There is a purpose each missionary has that requires constant and diligent action. Though sometimes it might be difficult or annoying to fill every moment of every day doing something out of risk of disobedience, there is always someone to talk to, more doors to knock, and more people that could use a call or a visit even though you went to them earlier in the week. There is always studying to do, lessons to prepare, books to give out, etc. Technically, every moment of every day has purpose, whether you decide to do anything about it or not. This perpetual, underlying, subconscious sense of purpose is widely taken advantage of as a missionary, and upon returning home, it is painfully stripped away and lost. Maybe eventually even forgotten.
Unfortunately, this is the case that I currently find myself in. I’m confident when I say that there are probably other people of all ages experiencing this exact same thing. The perpetual sense of purpose I once enjoyed both as an aspiring musician and obedient missionary have long since disappeared into the mists of my memory. And at this point, I am serious about learning how I can develop even a remote sense of what that type of purpose is, so as to continue living an effective and enjoyable life similar to the one I had playing music in high school and teaching the gospel on my mission. Trying to find purpose in what we do is actually a very healthy and positive thing to do. Ever since I took the time to initially ponder this not long ago, I have sensed a profound difference in the way that I view my life and current situation. I have even been able to make some decisions that I feel are quite good for my life at this time. It is not a sense of weakness or immaturity. In fact, the contrary. As I ponder my sense of purpose in my life, I actually feel more responsible. A sense that I am growing as a human and learning important principles.
In the end, though everything be a constant work in progress as long as we live, I have become a happier and more mindful individual as I have pondered this sense of purpose in my life. Some things in my life that I do not find purpose in have yet to be treated, removed, or changed, but nevertheless I am on what I feel to be an exceptionally positive track. Though I still consider myself a wandering sheep in the fold of the universe, I understand a little bit more about my purpose. I think it will be different for everyone, which is why I think everyone should think about it. In my job, I can have a new sense of purpose that can be built upon as I prepare for future opportunities that are bound to come. In school, I can look forward to learning new skills and material in new classes. In life, I can seek purpose in all that I do, subsequently affecting the way I see things and the decisions that I make. I hope that one day we can all recognize that same profound sense of purpose I referenced earlier. Perhaps that might be the purpose of life.