“The largest portion of our life passes while we are doing ill, a goodly share while we are doing nothing, and the whole while we are doing that which is not to the purpose. What man can you show me who places any value on his time, who reckons the worth of each day, who understands that he is dying daily? For we are mistaken when we look forward to death; the major portion of death has already passed. Whatever years be behind us are in death’s hands.” ~ Seneca
Brett and Kate McKay raise a wonderful point in their recent blog post, What Man Understands that He is Dying Daily (This is Your Life). They described the “this is your life” moment that comes when you realize that your life is your own to chart and what’s more, that every moment is a one shot deal.
Time, like life, is an interesting commodity. It is infinite and eternal, yet its specific manifestations are fleeting and bounded. I’ve often considered this fact while flying. While skimming the cloud tops the speed at which I am moving through the air is relatively apparent. On a calm, clear night, however, I’ve noted a strange sensation of suspended animation, where I feel more like a star than a meteor, my position quietly fixed in the dormant sky.
Older friends and family tell me that time move more quickly the older you become, and as I approach the final days of my 39th year I am inclined to agree. Knowing this I continually ask myself, what can I say, what can I do to ensure that my remaining time is spent not dying, but living?
Fortunately, I had that “this is my life” moment long ago. The original awareness was luckily reinforced by a number of other revelations so it has been nigh impossible to wiggle out of what I recognize to be my purpose on earth. The funny thing is that your life’s purpose is typically made known to you through your interactions with others, rather than being internally derived or manufactured. If you’ve discovered your purpose, you undoubtedly know what I mean.
If you haven’t, take time to devote yourself in service to others. If you don’t know where to begin, start with those closest to you. Aim to fill genuine needs, not just wants, through empathy, rather than sympathy. For example, help someone to rise up out of a challenging situation rather than commiserating with them on how badly done by they are.
Genuine, selfless service is the key that unlocks the door to an awareness of purpose. Relatively few people have dedicated their lives to selfless service, but those who have provide a wonderful example, a point of departure, for how it is done. Don’t mimic or copy another, for in so doing you will miss the essential point.
Your purpose is unique to you.
This fact may explain why so few people have come to the point of realization, the “this is my life” moment that separates those who merely survive from those who truly live. You have to do the work. No one can do it for you. Serve. Serve and serve and when you think you have no more service in you, serve some more. The point of awareness will come.
Act now so that you can minimize the part of your life devoted to doing ill or doing nothing and maximize the time you spend doing that which is to the purpose! What do you have to lose?