I met a man recently in the parking lot when I popped into the shop to buy a few things. He has lived in this country for 7 years. He comes from the DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo) and was studying medicine at University there. After his father died, he came to South Africa, possibly to try and make a living to help his family (I didn’t want to pry) and had to become a car guard. There’s nothing wrong with being a car guard, it’s just that they don’t earn much. Finally after 7 years of being in the country, one or more kind benefactor(s) helped him out and now he is studying IT at Boston City Campus part time. In March next year he will be finished and he’s very excited about it.
He has an engaging, positive and friendly personality and is always willing to help come rain or shine. Once when it was pouring with rain he walked beside me with his red umbrella making sure I didn’t get wet while walking to my car. He seems to make the most of his day by working hard and being of service.
This is a story about never giving up and about living with purpose. Even though his circumstances were probably dire and at the beginning healthy food and a place to stay might have been hard to come by, he persevered.
We are often quick to give up on our dreams, visions or ideas because they seem so hard to turn into reality. Even every day life can seem too difficult to bear. For some, getting out of bed in the morning is a battle.
Victor Frankl, who wrote Man’s search for Meaning wrote about how when he was in a concentration camp during the 2nd world war, he noticed that the people who survived were the ones who had a purpose to go home to at the end of the war. Nobody knew who they would find after the war and many knew they had lost everything and everyone, but some people, Dr Frankl included, found something to live for and that was a purpose that they had affirmed for themselves.
Today, if we recognise that we have something to live for, something meaningful and worthwhile, it helps us to get out of bed in the morning and go about the seemingly repetitive type of life that many tend to live.
When I was in my late 20’s, I was working in an office and my toddler was being looked after by my mom (for which I am grateful*). However, I wanted to look after her myself. I wanted to hear her first word or see her take her first step. One day while typing out some correspondence, I gazed out the window and thought to myself – “What am I doing here?”. I don’t mean on earth, I mean in the office. The work I was doing seemed meaningless, as if by doing it, I was making no difference in anybody’s life. It was soon after that, that I cashed in my pension money, paid off some debts and quit my job so that I could get a half day position and be with my daughter.**
For me it was about believing I had a purpose. Originally we didn’t have the money for me to leave my job as we had accumulated debts, but we found a way and my husband supported me in this***. It was important to me and we made a plan.
When it seems there’s too much hopelessness or meaninglessness in your life, perhaps you are missing or ignoring your purpose. I say ignoring because our body actually gives out signals. Those signals for me felt like boredom, dissatisfaction, frustration and sadness. You might have others.
If you find yourself binging on food, drugs, alcohol, internet, gambling, television, etc. it could be that you are avoiding your soul’s calling to you.
Making the decision to follow my destiny has changed my life in so many ways and led me on interesting and adventurous paths. Some good, some not as good – but always going forward.
I wish you a purposeful day, year, life.