Having a Purpose

March 25, 2024

I think a lot about the future, even as I am maturing by the minute. Who knows how much of the future I will see? But what I see worries me a bit, I confess.

Now this may trigger some of you and may annoy others, but you all know me and while I speak my mind, I always do it from a place of love and acceptance of life being well…life.

We seem to live in a time when everyone suffers from a sort of malaise. Surely, we have a lot to worry about: two wars, both devastating to civilians with loss of life and ways of life that are beyond our comprehension living here in the United States. Even here at home, we struggle with division among our people because of ugly political games; we see gun violence and drug overdoses. We see lifestyle diseases spiraling out of control, with heart disease, diabetes and obesity threatening more and more people.

Sounds grim, right? Not exactly the reason you follow me, but take heart. That’s not what I’m about today.

Today, I want to talk about committing to happiness, purpose, fitness and life. It’s a lot; I know, but I’m struck by a pervasive veil of doom in so many people I meet.

Let me tell you a story. This past February, my beloved husband and I embarked on a long-anticipated holiday to our gorgeous Italy. Just the two of us. I would work on my new book and he would outline the new project we have in our minds to create along with our cooking show. We love to work together but we truly love to vacation together.

I find the flight to Europe to be grueling and exhausting, so I never arrive feeling at the top of my game. On this trip, we landed in Rome (after 8 hours of long, boring movies…looking at you, Oppenheimer) and took a train to Florence where we would spend our first week working and chilling. We settled into our little apartment and went to the market for some groceries so we could cook the next day. I was tired…I was really tired.

As we walked back, groceries in hand, I tripped and landed hard, on my arms and face on the sidewalk. We took stock and decided to take a wait and see attitude. It turned out that I had sprained both forearms and bruised my lip. The pain was (and is, as of this writing) like a toothache, constant and intense. It will take a few months to fully heal, so I now have to plan my life around my injury.

We left Florence for business in Paris (a most amazing city and one of my new favorites), returning to Rome to finally be on holiday and rest. Robert almost immediately came down with a vicious flu and me with a raging case of shingles.

Do we sound like the Book of Job yet? It gets better, so hang on.

A week before we were scheduled to return home, we took a walk on a warm sunny day, both feeling a little better. Robert tripped and broke a bone in his shoulder; a small break, no surgery needed, but still a break that will take time to heal.

We cried ‘uncle’ at this point and returned home a week early. Our beloved friends, our chosen family, stepped up and helped us when needed and we settled in to begin the process of working our way back to wellness.

Through it all, we kept our cool and our positive outlook. No kidding. We gave each other silly little names, all variations on ‘klutz.’ We talked about wrapping ourselves in bubble wrap. We laughed til it hurt.

We both saw doctors and returned to the gym to do what we could, as soon as we could, modifying where needed so that we stay strong through our healing.

So why am I droning on about this? Because shiitake happens, baby. You either deal and get back up and go forward or you curl up on the couch and decide you’re depressed, unlucky or cursed.

We had a bad couple of weeks. That’s not our life and it never will be (I hope). An acquaintance said that our trip was tragic. Tragic??? Not hardly. No one died; economies didn’t collapse. We tripped; both got injured and sick. Now we are healing, getting back up and can’t wait to travel again.

Because that’s what we do. We are not superheroes; we are not exceptional. Am I scared every time I take a walk? Yes. Do I fear face-planting again? Yes. But we are resilient because we choose to live a healthy life; we choose to be fit; we choose to be engaged in our community. We choose strength.

We choose happiness…each and every day.

In life, there will always be adversity and stress. There will bad or hard times. It’s guaranteed. But there will also always be great joy and awe-inspiring experiences if you let life happen; real life; not virtual life. 

What has happened to our resilience?

Why does every little bump in the road seems to send us off the rails? We desperately want relief from any discomfort…now…in a pill…an injection…a bottle…or a bong. And our kids! Our poor kids, with technology at their fingertips have lost their ability to cope with life’s tough moments.

Sometimes we just have to walk through fire to get to the other side; back to the joy. Sometimes we have to work for it. How can we pull back our kids, our society from the brink of despair where we seem to scarily hover?

Having a purpose in life is key, as I reflect on this malaise I see around me. Having a reason to get out of bed each day makes for a better life. Whatever you aspire to, I don’t care. But a lack of purpose or direction in life makes us feel worthless. And we are not.

Sometimes finding a purpose can be a challenge, but please, please don’t be driven by money or our current most popular currency, fame (at all costs) because they will both leave you feeling empty and wondering if that’s all there is. Just ask anyone with any notoriety.

Purpose means that you have a deep, self-igniting engine pushing you in whatever direction you love. It drives your every decision and seduces you daily. Finding your purpose will remove all doubt about what needs doing for your life to count. You’ll hit the gym with happy determination and eat well easily because taking care of yourself allows you to serve your purpose. You’ll exude the joy that comes from someone who has discovered why they’re here.

At least that’s how it is for us. We discovered our purpose, our mission many years ago when I recovered my health and our vision has never wavered, not in good or hard times. It drives us and is a source of great joy for us. We want to leave the world better than we found it.

It’s time for us to get off the couch and get engaged. We can’t continue to complain that things are not as we like them, but then do nothing to create change. I was watching a movie the other night where a character said that marriage ensures that there is a witness to your life; that you won’t go unnoticed. It’s not just in marriage. In life, get involved; show up, be a witness, whether for a cause, a purpose, for your friends, coworkers or family. Show up for your life.