Life’s Purpose

“There is no purpose in this life.” That was my response to a friend. He and I were enjoying lunch at a local diner, discussing “cabbages and kings and other things”, a typical mish-mash of random topics we routinely find interesting. He had commented that there must be a purpose in life for each of us. If only there were. Throughout life I have heard the message of the importance of my life and that, at least partially, it has been pre-ordained. Such statements were, I’m sure, intended to energize me and instill a feeling of importance, but they ultimately failed.

God has a purpose for you, David
You are here for a reason, David
Find your mission in life, David
David, you were born to (lead, teach, sing, preach, write, etc…)

All good intentions, but having good intentions is not a virtue in itself. Hearing such statements as a child, they just caused stress to me. What if I didn’t find my purpose? What if I failed at (lead, teach, sing, preach, write, etc…)? What if I never discovered my mission? If I don’t find my reason for living, will my life be a waste? Those fears are not unusual, considering the many teenagers who attempt to pick a college major before enrollment, as though that would define their life. In doing so, they’re reacting to the pressure of which I speak.

This topic of finding oneself is difficult for me. Life can have purpose, but the purpose must be defined by the individual and is optional. Few of us take that step, other than to endorse or support a charitable initiative. For most of us, we seek to have meaningful (to us) content in our lives. An enjoyable career, a loving family and children are all content, as are vacations, hobbies and other activities and events that help us define who we are. We may find achievements within our life’s content, such as bearing children, establishing a business or whatever topics we define as major life milestones. But none of those qualify as purposes for living.

In earlier years, the thought of having no purpose was troubling. No more. I have discovered that being here with no purpose is just the way it is. We were each born randomly, beginning a life with no purpose. Our challenge was, and is, to find meaning within this short life while we are here. For we will soon be gone.