The Persistence of Purpose

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”―Ralph Waldo Emerson
There are times when upon waking up we find ourselves stumped, not knowing what our purpose in life is. Why are we alive? Does what I do draw me closer to my dreams? Am I able to help others? What do I need to do to fulfill my life long goals?

Often, I encounter the similar dilemma among teenagers who are just beginning to discover their passion in life. There are those who found out that they could write poetry, which may later develop into songs. Now that they have materials, they will tend to round up musically inclined people whom they know share the same passion. Unknowlingly, and because they fuelled their lives with the same interest, they ended up forming a band.

There are those “adulting” human beings who seem to be overwhelmed by earning their own money and, at the same time, being responsible at an awkward stage in life. They splurge on items that they don’t even need. They end up becoming spendthrift and wasteful. This is contrary to those who are poor and seem to lack the proper knowledge and education to move ahead in the so-called corporate world. These people in the lowest level of the socioeconomic spectrum are those who carry odd and/or menial jobs.

On the other hand, the richest person in the entire world–although equipped with the highest education possible, including various resources in immense amounts–still have that insatiable need to think of the next best investment that could be added to his growing estate.

Across the aforementioned spectrum, many people, I believe, experience the same looming question; which, for some, results in a dilemma of psychological levels.

Being rational, there comes a point in a person’s life when he should make tough decisions. These may not be based on common logic all the time, but practicality should be considered; how outcomes affect and benefit not only the self but also others.

A human being’s life cycle is simple: absorb knowledge, develop a pattern/way of life suited personally, create life, and preserve it. However, purpose is the most important element in this process. It is the glue that holds a person’s life together and makes it worthwhile.

A tree, for instance, does not ask itself what its purpose in life is–it obviously can’t. It only grows and grows and grows as much as it can. With the help of the sun, balanced by precipitation; and even if it should grow from a break in a rock, it persists. Humans are the ones who find purpose in the tree’s thick shady leaves, wide trunk, and strong branches. It’s true–we give purpose to everything around us.

As rational and social beings, we can bring ourselves to that state wherein we plan and work for our own preservation, knowledge and education, communication, different relationships, and all other ingredients that define our humanity. And if after all the meditation and accolade we have accomplished for ourselves the question of purpose still looms, then you might just be surprised that others will answer that for you. They, in whatever manner or form, will find purpose in you.

However, in the end, only you can determine your own purpose in life. Recognize that each person has their own limits. Know yourself: your interests, capabilities, character, and what you can offer.

Remember one cannot give from an empty cup. As change is inevitable, our goal as human beings is to evolve. Adapt with the signs of the times. The manner to which we fulfill our achievements may vary and change with the ways of the world, but our goals and purpose in life remains the same. Walk with kindness and compassion that others may find our purpose to eventually and positively affect theirs.

Ultimately, persist and persevere. Every step leads to the fulfillment of your goals. Achieve to thrive in the face of adversity. Walk with purpose.

*Currently working at the Philippine International Convention Center, where she began services 22 years ago, Kathryn Valladolid Ebrahim is an alumna of St. Scholastica’s College–Manila; she finished a degree in Bachelor of Arts, major in Sociology, at the University of Santó Tomás; drawing and writing are her primary avocations.