“A useless life is an early death.”– Goethe
IF you’ve been given the chance to restart a new life after you’ve gone through some life-changing, miraculous experience, such as surviving a horrific accident when everyone else perished, or finding yourself inexplicably healed from a deadly disease, then you’ll know what it feels to be given a reprieve.
It is a fresh slate, a clean paper, what the Greeks call a tabula rasa, on which you can begin writing your new story. Or if you use a computer, click on a new blank document and chase the cursor.
How does one use this new lease on life?
Most people lucky enough to be given a second chance, will quickly realize that this new lease can just be an extra few months or years, and in the most blessed scenarios, a decade or two. Each day beyond that critical turning point is a bonus, every single moment, a gift.
Sometimes, God mercifully knocks some sense into us through drastic means by throwing us a curve ball to bring us down on our knees so that we have no choice but to look above and beyond our own petty, selfish concerns and total self-involvement in order to grasp the concept of our own mortality and to know that we are here for a purpose.
We’re not here to merely consume resources or take up space. We were not meant to spend the greater part of our lives posting or browsing through our Facebook, Instagram or Twitter accounts.
Consider the fearsome dinosaurs. Grazing the earth for millions of years, that is essentially what they did — consumed resources and took up space. Not by intelligence but by sheer size and numbers, they had dominion over all other species for millions of years, until one day, as scientists try to explain their extinction, a rogue asteroid about 7 miles long, possibly got unhinged off its orbit in the asteroid belt, hit the earth with such impact, setting off a series of volcanic eruptions that covered the atmosphere with ash far above the stratosphere, so that sunlight could not penetrate through the haze for years, killing off the plant life, upsetting and destroying the food chain balance and effectively starving and wiping the dinosaurs off the face of the earth 65 million years ago.
Here is earth’s tabula rasa story — starting on a clean slate, a new lease on life. When the reptiles died, mammals, of which we are classified under, began their ascent. Human beings with purpose came to be.
Yet each man’s purpose is nebulous and not always obvious. Purpose does not come as clear as the light of day. We have to seek it out. Either by choice or circumstance, some exceptional ones find their purpose early enough and proceed to fulfill it.
But the great majority of people on the bell curve don’t have the nose to sense their true north. Most of us of the garden variety meander about our lives trying different things until we finally stumble upon it by trial and error. The annals of history are rife with such stories.
St. Paul, almost single handedly nourished the beginnings of the early Christian church through his numerous travels. But he didn’t start out that way. He was just as passionate about persecuting Christians before he was tapped from above to do a complete conversion.
Edwin Hubble, the great astronomer who lived in the nineteen twenties and for whom the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) is named for his outstanding achievements in expanding our view of the universe, tried different things before finding out what he was meant to do. In college, he played championship basketball and even tried boxing.
After fighting in World War I, he studied law, tried lawyering for a year and obviously didn’t like it. Something must have happened because he went back to college to study astronomy and finally found his footing and his purpose in life. That’s what most of us do. We try different lives, different hats, until we find the one that matches heaven’s purpose. Just don’t run out of time. No one wants to leave with unfinished business.
If our stations in life allow us the luxury of choice, then more than likely, we will be meandering too and trying different things before coming on board to the ship that will likely bring us to the port of our purpose.
Try reading all or portions of Rick Warren’s “The Purpose Driven Life” written a few years back. Warren is the pastor of Saddleback Church in Orange County, California. His book continues to be received widely for its clear, well-structured and succinct explanation of what living with purpose means. True, its skewed towards his ministry but there are valuable truths about purpose and meaning to be gleaned by both the secular and spiritual, particularly in the early parts of the book.
We don’t really have to wait for something dramatic, traumatic or tragic to happen to get us on track to finding that purpose. But do go to the right source. Nix the harebrained ideas coming from most of the media about what that purpose might be.
When it comes to things that matter, most of the mainstream media has proven itself to be unworthy of trust. It pushes its own agenda of power that comes from profit.
Tune out of the external world and go deep within. If you pray hard enough and long enough and live in the silence for a little while, chances are, you’ll find it. You can then begin rewriting your own story on a new document page. n
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Nota Bene: Monette Adeva Maglaya is SVP of Asian Journal Publications, Inc. To send comments, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org