Recently, I read a blog post titled “I am certain of this: the purpose of my life is not to bear a child.” The writer of this post is Ms. Kimi Ishiwata whom I got to know recently. Having several things in common such as growing up in the U.S. and being a poet, it was really neat getting to know her. Her poems were cool too. So I read her blog assuming her life would be cool as well. It was beyond cool – her blog post grabbed me.
That led me to also contemplate on the question: what is the purpose of my life? I too want to bear my own child someday, but my life purpose is not necessarily to bear a child. I too want to publish a poetry book someday, but my life purpose is not necessarily to publish poetry books. I too want to illustrate picture books someday, but… (the list goes on)
So, what is the purpose of my life? My answer to Kimi was this: the purpose of my life is to live my own life. Nicely put, I would even say so myself, but what does that really mean? Let me toss aside an imaginary criticism, “That’s just an excuse for a person who has no definite goal,” and explain my stand like this. If I define my life purpose as “I was born to do such-and-such” but if I wasn’t able to fulfill that such-and-such, then I would end up whining, “What was my life for?” But, what one’s life is about is more than merely fulling one’s desires and goals. For example, suppose I die tomorrow without giving birth to a child, a poetry book and a picture book (though I’ve got xeroxed mini-poetry books going), does it mean my life was not worth living? Definitely not! Though I may leave this world childless and published-work-less, I have encountered many wonderful children as a teacher and wrote many poems I care about though imperfect. That is enough. Kintaro candy is still a kintaro candy no matter where it’s cut off. But of course I’d like to fulfill my desires and goals if given a chance.
Another phrase of Kimi I found cool was, “Bearing children only means that God happened to use me that way.” (goosebumps!) Same goes to Hanna bearing Samuel and Mary bearing Jesus. Yes, what one’s life is about is more than merely fulling one’s desires and goals (Yap, I said it twice). Personal desires and goals that happen to meet with God’s may come true, but unfortunately (or fortunately) some do not come true. They are unfilled because of our own shortcomings or of others, or simply because of the circumstances. It’s easy to blame yourself, others or even God, but you can save your breath if you think of it this way: even if things did not go as I wished, my life is just a small piece of a larger picture, serving a purpose for someone or something though unrecognized within my small frame of reference. Besides, there is a great possibility that my wishes and desires being the very cause of destruction thus messing up the big picture (I apologize for this if you’re nodding right now).
Yes, talk about destructive wishes and desires. My head may uphold a purpose that seems ideal, but my flesh may act impulsively otherwise. I may say I want to publish picture books, but ending up doing more performances. I may say I want to get married, but I may end up doing more… (need I say the rest?) It doesn’t necessarily mean one is true and the other is false. Both ideals and instincts can move me forward, pointing to the direction I truly desire. I just need to recognize both and examine both. If I honestly face both sides of my desires, then the happy medium may be found. God grant it, He may use my ideals or my instincts, or even both. Of course everything won’t go smoothly as ideal; my instinct may prove me wrong and push me off. I may end up crying, but I rather not whine about it. That, I would define as a cool life.
In contrast, some lives have obvious purposes from the beginning like Samson and John the Baptist. A life with a manual and a script given from birth, sort of speak. You may call them lucky for knowing their life purposes from the start, but there is joy in finding them out as you go! For most people, their manuals and scripts are hidden as they come into this world, so their parents and people around them must learn how to handle them by trial and error, each individual figuring out their life purposes on their own, discovering them, failing them and redefining them again. In heaven, there must be manuals and scripts for everyone from the beginning. If we live consulting with the original Writer, it would make our lives a whole lot easier (although the trial-and-error method can teach us great deals too). Someday, we will laugh as we look at the heavenly answer keys saying, “Wow, I was waaaaaaaay off!” But let’s say that all’s well that ends well.
Back to the original question: what is the purpose of my life? It’s something that was set long before I was born, something that will be revealed as I go, depending on how tuned I am with the original Writer. So I just live my own life as to fulfill it.