1) Get a blank sheet of paper
2) Write, in your best handwriting "My Life's Purpose" at the top.
3) Start writing proposed statements and keep writing until you write one that makes you cry.
Those tears are it. They are the key to purpose. Okay, okay . . . I get it. Life is NEVER that simple . . . or is it? I will fully acknowledge here that I broke one of the "forbiddens" of Rosh Hashanah and strung more than one letter together and I tried this.
The "CliffsNotes" . . . and a few disclaimers:
- I was very tired when I did this exercise despite having a day of just sort of sitting around in temple and pondering and praying.
- I was struck, during services, that I am sorta' alone in this whole situation. No - not in a "no one loves me way" but in a way that means I was going home to an empty house and I had no one to chat with or pass time with during my long hours of introspection.
- I tried, very hard, to hit this exercise in a very "high handed" way . . . meaning I started out really profound hoping that is where I'd hit. Suffices to say the first thing I wrote was "To help my child realize and live her purpose." I dry heaved for a while and moved on to something a little more real "To make the world a better place than it was when I arrived." I rolled my own eyes at myself and went lower - way low - "To find the perfect turkey sandwich." I pushed my hunger aside and kept searching for the sweet spot.
- I got very distracted from the exercise about ten minutes (and twenty listed "life purpose" proposals) in because I started to think it was a trap . . . it was not really about finding the purpose - the tears would come when you realized how impossible this fool's errand was.
- After reading a chapter of In the Garden of the Beasts and organizing my book shelves, I picked my Sharpie back up and went back to writing.
- "To accept that I don't know it all so I need to keep looking for knowledge." was where I resumed. I may want to punch myself in the face for sharing this with the world but I knew I was getting closer.
- I tapped my Sharpie on my cheek for a while. And it hit me (and I knew it hit me because the tears started before I started writing) . . .
- I wrote down my life's purpose ("To spend every day trying to appreciate that I got to live it." - if you care) and put my Sharpie away.
- Bruce Willis was dead the whole time, man.