Don’t be a rider through life

Photo courtesy of Pamela Logan

Photo courtesy of Pamela Logan

Life while serving on a submarine was very busy.  There was always more than enough to do to occupy one’s time:  training, exams, qualifications, cleaning, repairs, maintenance, and standing watch for hours upon hours.  Any free moment was spent eating, sleeping or washing.

Once during my duty as a submariner, I was assigned to a different submarine for only a few days, and my task was to get from one port to another (transit).  “Rider” is the term we used to describe such people.  They rode the submarine, taking up space, breathing the air, eating meals, creating waste products, but they did not have any responsibilities nor a contribution within the submarine crew.

I do not want to be a rider in life, just moving along planet earth taking up space but not contributing.

However, to do so, one has to have a sense of purpose, a meaning for being here.  A sense of purpose is derived from one’s beliefs and values.  If I believe that my life is special that I was created by a Supreme Being, then it is much easier to identify my purpose.

Someone else’s paradigm may not allow for God, religion, or a Supreme Being.  Main stream science theorizes that the earth and life on it is just the result of 14.7 billion years of random interactions of matter and energy.  If I believe this, that life as we know it resulted from evolution and survival of the fittest, then my purpose is easy to identify: survive and reproduce.

Recently I re-read a book by coach and career counselor Richard Leider titled, The power of purpose: Creating meaning in your life and work.  The author asserts that identifying one’s purpose is an important endeavor and one that is frequently re-addressed throughout an individual’s life.  Each of us cycle through seasons of life and periodically seek answers to the question “why am I here?”.  Further, major life events or crisis will also cause us to pause and ponder our purpose and what truly matters in life.

Purpose means using our gifts on what deeply moves us.  Occupying ourselves and our time with people, commitments, and challenges that help us feel worthwhile.  – Richard Leider

We all have an innate desire to find purpose in our lives – to have challenges that energize us – to have relationships that bring meaning to our short existence.

Sometimes we adopt motion and busyness as a substitute to identifying an overarching purpose.  We fill our days with many things: work, meetings, sports, social activities, television and the internet but they don’t bring much satisfaction.  This is similar to my submarine rider experience.  The 3 days that I spent riding a submarine drove me crazy – I needed something to do!

Busyness is a nervous way of living because we continuously seek approval from outside ourselves and then end up confused: “what am I trying to do with my life? –Richard Leider

I do not want to be nervous and anxious throughout my life.  I want peace and tranquility that is derived from purpose and meaning.  This is where minimalism has helped me.  I endeavor to be deliberate about where I invest my time, energy, and resources.  It forces me to ask the questions: “Is this (item/obligation/activity) consistent with my purpose?”

“Does it truly matter?”

Minimalism helps me to be intentional.  Identifying my purpose in life is the starting point.  With a purpose, I have a standard by which to judge my decisions.  I can eliminate that which is not consistent with my purpose.

Our concept of the world is an important starting point to identifying our purpose.  By understanding my position in this great big world, a child of God, redeemed by His Son Jesus Christ, my life has purpose and meaning.  There is a destination.  I am part of a very, very grand scheme.

With this knowledge, I do not have to seek affirmation from outside me or in the busyness of life.  I can be content in the here and now.  I am NOT just along for the ride on a random science experiment we call earth.  I have a guiding light – it points me in the direction that I should travel.

I am part of a bigger plan.  I am an important part of that plan.

We all are part of a big plan.

How will you choose to live?  What is your purpose?  What is your guiding light?

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About John Forrest