Everyone talks about discovering their purpose and path. Every motivational speaker has talked about tips and tricks for finding and walking that purpose at least once in their career. Hell, even I write about it and discuss it when I teach.
What if a person’s purpose has nothing to do with the career they choose or the passions they share? What if, every single day, the universe has an assignment for each us, and our sole purpose in life is to do what the universe suggests each and every day?
I have been thinking about this since I was a teenager. Watching the way my mother lived first clued me in to this potential. Yes, her passion was helping people, but she often did things that made zero sense to anyone else. And if I asked her about it, she would say she was led to do so, or she felt it was her job to do it. I have often felt these same compulsions, but unfortunately, unlike my mother, I tend to ignore the more subtle calls to action. For example, I have witnessed my mother tell a person asking for money that she didn’t have money on her but would be back with some. Then she went to the store, made her purchases, and came out with a few dollars for the person as promised. She did not do it for everyone, so this wasn’t a habit of charity or doing good deeds. I only witnessed it twice.
What compels us to go the extra mile, perform an act of kindness, or listen to a stranger on the street for an hour?
Maybe a person’s purpose is to fulfill the tasks the universe assigns. Maybe the sum of those assignments is one’s true legacy. If any of that is true, then I think the emptiness so many feel isn’t a lack of direction, it is the universe screaming, desperate to be heard. Perhaps the emptiness we feel is a result of rejecting so many assignments.
Oprah is amazing. She is a significant part of history, especially black history, but she has never done anything for me. Her greatness has had zero direct impact on my daily life. However, I think of the kind woman at the restaurant on the beach who smiled encouragingly and said, “Hang in there. It’s normal, we’ve all been there. He’s just had too much sun,” as my son had the biggest meltdown of his eighteen-month-old life. Let me correct that. It is still the biggest meltdown of his life, and he’s five now. I think of the man who paid for my gas when my card declined from what I thought was a finicky chip. I was running late for work, my tank was on E, it was only Thursday and I wouldn’t have any money until the next morning. I planned to put my last $4 in my tank and go on my merry way. Little did I know, my card was fine, but I had a $0 balance on all my accounts.
These people—the woman on the beach and the man at the gas station—have touched my life. So, while Oprah is a great aspirational hero, she is not who I thank God for at the end of the day.
That is not to say that Oprah is not fulfilling her purpose. With a legacy that big, it is hard not to see her work as anything but a calling. However, we won’t all be Oprah, or Bill Gates, Simone Biles, Barack or Michelle Obama, Mary Kay Ash, or Kanye West. Nor will we all choose to be a firefighter, soldier, nurse, teacher, or police officer. Which means our purpose might not be so grand or obvious.
That does not matter.
It is okay to be you—a happy, healthy, balanced, peaceful version of yourself. It is also okay to simply complete the small tasks the universe sends you and be a minor hero. The people who inspired, mentored, and hired Oprah are a small, but significant part of her legacy.
Let me put it a different way. The 500-person crew of a movie gets less recognition than the actors, but everyone knows the film would not exist without the crew. You don’t have to be an actor. Instead, you can be one hell of a sound technician and make movie magic.
Or, even more plainly, you can just be one hell of a kind person.
We all have felt that call to action at least once. The challenge is to stop ignoring it. Instead of brushing it off as an impulse of niceness, talk to the woman at the store who seems lonely, assist a neighbor carrying bags, hold the door for someone without expecting a thank you, or smile and say hello to the stranger who looks sad. Create that online class. Post your sketches. Whatever you feel moved to do, just do it. Who knows how your life might change?
Photo by Pixabay