Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of October 20, 2003
A purposeful life is a satisfying life
What do you get up in the morning for?
Recently I asked one of my friends this question. He just looked at me and said, "Huh?"
I had to repeat the question. Not because he did not understand it but simply because for him it was weird I would ask such a question.
So simple a question but loaded with meaning. I guess what I was asking him was, "What's his purpose in life?"
He then answered, "I get up to work."
He knew I would not stop there. So I asked, "Why do you want to work?"
"Renato you're scaring me," he said.
I insisted, "There was nothing scary about the question."
He turned serious and said, "I don't know why I get up in the morning aside from I need to go to work, earn money and pay my bills. Other than that I can't give you any profound answer if that's what you're looking for."
I can relate to his reaction because I myself was scared to address that question at one point in my life. Why do I get up in the morning?
Most people get up in the morning to go to their jobs. But why they do that is another question. Humour me for a moment and read some of the answers I got from other friends I asked:
"I get up to work. But it's just a job. Any job is okay as long as the money is good and I can do my thing after work," said Danilo, a technical support for an Internet company.
Lenny, an accountant, said, "I get up to make sure my needs are taken care of. From my job I get benefits and paid vacations. It gives me a sense of security."
Mona, who works for an advertising company in San Francisco, said, "I go to work because it allows my talents to grow. I can move up and be challenged."
What moved me the most was Leanna's answer.
"My work is my way to use my gifts, to make a difference doing something I believe needs doing in the world."
She works in the retail industry. She works there because she believes being approachable, cheerful and patient with people are among her gifts.
At one point she shared with me that some of her customers had been nasty and inconsiderate. Still she enjoys her job.
She also pointed out she knows her job is not big time. But for her, it's meaningful. Her personal goal every day is to help at least one customer find what he or she needs from the store.
"It's very small. But when people find something they need in the store I believe I still helped in relieving some of their stress."
The image that came to me was that of the widow in the Temple in the Gospel of Mark (cf 12: 41-44). She did not have much to give, but she gave all that she had with her whole heart.
I believe this is what the Lord wants for all of us - to share what we have wholeheartedly. The Lord is inviting us to share our gifts with others and not to expect something in return.
Aristotle said it a long time ago. "Where the needs of the world and your talents cross, there lies your vocation."
Knowing that you are helping others with the work you chose is always a happy chance to do something more meaningful than just getting up in the morning, putting in your time, and doing what it takes to pay the bills.
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