Recently, I’ve found myself facing a scary and unsettling reality. I will walk into a room … and have no idea why I’m there. Are there others? Please tell me yes.
For instance, yesterday I walked into the kitchen, and then stopped in the doorway and thought, “What am I doing?”
Was I hungry? No.
Did the plants need watering? No.
Was I there because I intended to clean? Definitely not.
I honestly couldn’t remember. Then I began to think through what I had been doing up to that point. I was working on the computer in the living room, spilled some cranberry juice on my keyboard, and… paper towels! I needed paper towels.
Sometimes we have to look back in order to remember what we came to do.
Needing to negotiate our way through a forgetful mind is also a good metaphor for life. We sometimes lose our way, get confused about life and why we are here, and find ourselves saying, “What am I doing?” It happens to everyone. And just like when we walk into a room and forget where we are, the best way to remember is to ask ourselves what we’ve been doing that has led us to this place, at this time. It works for everything from paper towels to existential questions of life.
When we slow ourselves and take an inventory of our lives, our choices, our relationships, and our successes and failures, we begin to see patterns that will, like a beacon, remind us what it is we came to do. My colleague Rev. Roy Medley explained it this way: “If you don’t know who you are, you act like who you ain’t.”
And be clear—there is something for each of us to do. Each of us has a purpose. As President Woodrow Wilson explained, “We are here to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision and with a finer spirit of hope and achievement.” Many of the great world religions share this belief and hold it to be a sacred duty for us to live our true potential. For example, the Bible teaches in the book of Matthew that each of us is “the light of the world.” It goes on to urge us to share that light, reasoning that “people do not light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, so it can give light to all in the house.” (Matthew 5:13-16)
This week, spend some time taking an inventory of your past. Ask yourself: What has led me to this place, at this time? Think about where you’ve been, so you can remember what you came to do. As Mark Twain said: “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”