“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” ― Martin Luther King Jr., A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches
Have you ever had the feeling that life is like running on a treadmill? We’re in a hurry to go nowhere and despite the distance traveled, the view remains the same. We can change the intensity by moving faster or raising the bar, but we remain in the same old rut; just marking time until our death.
Darrel Proffitt offers the idea that “we all struggle with trying to manipulate events and people to arrive at some place that we think is best for us.” As much as we want to believe, we are not really in control of the direction of our lives. Life just sort of happens to us, as if by accident. Circumstances change, plans are altered, and life often turns out very different than we had hoped…or planned.
Rick Warren writes in The Purpose Driven Life that “Being successful and fulfilling your life’s purpose are not at all the same thing; you can reach all your personal goals, become a raving success by the world’s standard and still miss your purpose in this life.” Are our plans standing in the way of our purpose?
Quoting Joseph Campbell’s No Matter the Cost, Darrel also wrote “We must be willing to get rid of the life we planned so as to have the life waiting for us.” I agree and I believe we’re all here for something. We have a purpose, a role to play in the big picture of humanity. I just can’t accept that we’re all not connected.
Everyone has a gift, something that we are good at. Something we can use to help our fellow man. I believe our true purpose in this life is to use our gifts to ease suffering, to serve each other, to feed and clothe, and to tend to everyone’s needs. It’s not enough to be served; we must also serve one another. If we only allow ourselves to be served, then we will be satisfied at someone else’s expense. This behavior is exploitative and this happiness is fleeting. However, if we choose serve one another, the happiness is two-fold: we receive a lasting satisfaction that we have helped someone else and they will be grateful for our help. In turn, they will help another, and so on. The whole “pay it forward” concept is based on taking care of each other.
How do you know if your life’s plans are not in line with your purpose? Dakota tribal wisdom dictates that, “When you discover you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.” That’s easier said than done, I guess. First, you’d have to recognize that your horse is dead and that you’re not progressing. Then you must do something to effect a change. If your habits stand in your way of finding your purpose, then you must change the habit. Replace the habit with a better one that will lead you to the right path.
Like many, I have questioned my existence. I’ve wondered why I was born during our time. Why didn’t I come along earlier in history, or later in the future? There must be a reason I am here now. How can I make the best use of my life?
Rick Warren has a good idea. In The Purpose Driven Life he writes, “The best use of life is to love. The best expression of love is time. The best time to love is now.”