I believe that in every person’s life, one of the biggest internal battles waged in each of us is over the questions: What am I doing here? What is my purpose, and how do I achieve the things I was born to do?
So much of life is waiting. Waiting to be accepted, to be discovered, to be loved, to be acknowledged, to be chosen. At times, there is very little that can be done to solidify our place in the world. We have some idea of what we want, but then it falls apart – a relationship, a career, a dream – often without our permission, and we’re left alone again as we stumble through the perpetual fog to wonder, What am I doing? What is my purpose? This is one of the most basic and fundamental human questions that exists.
The helplessness that may stem from a long string of disappointments can feel unbearable, but on the flip side of these disappointments are the moments that stir in us a sense of power — of enlightenment, of spirituality. These are the moments that compel us to push forward, and they are usually composed of unexpected stimuli.
I collect these moments the way other people collect photos or letters or movies. They range from joyous and triumphant to solemn and sacred, sorrowful and uncertain to content and tranquil.
My moments consist of crying on my bedroom floor to “Feels Like Tonight” by Daughtry after hitting rock bottom and stripping off all my clothes on the Jersey Shore at 2 a.m. under the starriest sky I’ve ever beheld to go skinny dipping for the first time. They consist of eating hot cookies behind a dark gym with a boy I was certain was my happily-ever-after and walking along the Delaware with a new boy I thought might take his place. They are composed of holding a fragile, 18-year-old girl as she fell apart on my chest after her abortion and crouching to meet the gaze of a homeless woman on the streets of Philadelphia and seeing not an addict or a failure but a cold human being with God in her eyes.
There’s the memory of dancing with my family at the age of three – our hands linked in a circle – to the “Lady Di” composition that my mother had recorded on a tape, and another of my salty and unstoppable tears spilling on musty pages as I sat cross-legged on the floor of a 4-story barn, stocked from bottom to top with books. There’s the unforgettable sensation of standing on a cliff in Malibu, overlooking the turquoise Pacific, and feeling indescribably small.
I remember the uncharacteristic version of myself singing with the bartender at the Piano Bar in Georgetown, and a slew of highway lights and long drives under raining autumn leaves. I recall the peace I felt sitting alone in front of the Blessed Sacrament on a summer afternoon and the softness of my new Shiba Inu puppy as I cuddled her on her first car ride home.
I remember, very distinctly, meeting my one of my best friends, because when he approached my desk for the first time with a smile, I inexplicably knew that he was going to matter — that I should pay attention to the moment before it became a memory.
Everything is going to be okay. I know that because of these moments that have brought me back to my humanity time and time again, that have reconnected me to everything I am and all of the things that perhaps I was made for. These mental snapshots make time stand still exist for all of us, but some people don’t ever recognize them or realize their significance. Worse, some people will forget they happened at all.
Don’t lose, forget, or stifle what matters most to you by focusing too much on the same dull, daily routines, which may bring in cash and security but not much else. Build your life around experiencing your own “moments” – the ones that will live on forever in your mind and heart – so that when you look back someday, you will know that you fulfilled your purpose, and that these moments were the ones that made everything else worthwhile.