Monday, May 2, 2011

A Purpose In Life

Parents often talk about the younger generation as if they didn't have anything to do with it.

~ Haim Ginott ~

When my older daughter was thirteen, she wondered what purpose each one of us had in this world, if any. And if there was none, what was the point of life? I listened with interest and was quite intrigued, because there was a period in my own life when I wondered the same things. What purpose does each and every one of us serve in our lifetime? Is there one? Does there need to be one? If there is, to what level must it be? Does it have to be extravagant for it to be worthwhile? And if it isn’t, is it meaningless? Are we meaningless? This is a question that we all wonder at some point. Sometimes we are fortunate enough to find an answer. Sometimes we spend our whole lives striving for one. And other times we give up on the idea and learn to live with the blank space.

For the longest time, beginning at the same age that my daughter pondered these things, I too wondered what my purpose in this life was. My parents were very simple people who didn’t do anything extravagant besides raising a family, working hard, being honest and honourable individuals, and being loyal and faithful to one another. In my younger years, their lives seemed meaningless, uneventful and even uninspiring. They weren’t inventors or scientists whose creations and discoveries made headlines around the world. They weren’t famous or glamorous. They didn’t circulate amongst the elite or walk amongst kings and queens. They were two unknown, anonymous and terribly plain individuals who no one ever heard of, whose names would not be remembered by this world after they were gone. It all seemed pointless at the time. What purpose had they served, after all, since their lives were so ordinary, and dull? And would my own life have any purpose if I lived the same hollow existence?

It’s fair to say that I rebelled against everything they stood for through my adolescence. I wanted to have a purpose in life – a real purpose, not just to exist. I wanted to live a dynamic and exciting life. I wanted to change the grand scheme of things and contribute something valuable. I wanted to go beyond being a simple, decent – and exceedingly boring - human being.

And then one day, my first child was born, and everything changed inside me. Everything that I’d ever thought, everything that I’d ever believed about my own parents was wrong. From the moment I felt my first daughter stirring inside me, I inherited the greatest responsibility I would ever have in my life. Whatever manner I chose to raise her in would determine the person that I would introduce into this world when she reached adulthood. To teach her to be respectful, to raise her to be empathetic, to remind her to be open-minded, thoughtful and fair – these were only a few of the things that I was liable for. I was her role model, the person she mimicked and looked up to for the answers. I was never more aware in my life than at that moment of the significant role I played in every aspect of her life. Besides the basic necessities that she required, I was in charge of her overall development. In essence, I was given the responsibility of shaping another human being – nurturing her physically, advising her morally and enlightening her spiritually.

Imagine being responsible, completely and wholly, for another living soul?

When my daughter arrived and the reality of this huge task came to be, I suddenly realized what one of my purposes in life is, which is similar to one of the purposes my parents had. From the moment I set eyes on my first born, I knew that I needed to continue on the path that my parents placed me on so that she can pave the road further. I needed to raise my child to continue to offer kindness and compassion in this world; traits that would help to balance the scales of life and add weight to the goodness of this world against the weight of evil. I needed to set an example for the souls arriving after me, souls like my daughter, the same way my parents did. And although my parents did not make headlines in the world, they did make headlines on the larger scale of life – the world of evolved souls, the world of thoughtfulness and empathy, the world of decent and honourable human beings that we were all meant to be. That was one of their jobs, one of their purposes, and with my child’s arrival, it became one of mine as well.

When I became a mother, I realized that I was here to guide and to teach. I was here to implement every wonderful, decent thing that my parents ever placed inside me into my firstborn, into every child I had, and into any other young soul that I encountered along the way. I realized that If I could lead the way to integrity, then I would, in fact, change the grand scheme of things and contribute something valuable to the world: a human chain of kindness that would flow from one person to the next, and perhaps throughout the generations. This, I believe, is one of the greatest purposes of life – the production of ethical and caring human beings that have the ability to make the world a better place.

So, like my own parents, I many not invent something spectacular. Or put an end to world hunger. Or eliminate war. Or even cure cancer. But I just might raise good children that will grow into good adults. And that is quite an accomplishment.

No comments:

Post a Comment