Monday, August 06, 2007

A Purposeful Life
Time for another reality check
I've written, opined and rambled on before about how important it is to me to have a sense of mission or purpose in life. Call it a calling. For me, it has had to be a broad enough one to encompass my passions and interests. No surprise, then, that it involves teaching. So, this weekend, which I spent in Madison teaching kayaking for three consecutive days, I found myself wondering if I was living my mission.
Yes, I love to kayak, and I am (I say this with no I digress) becoming an elegant and competent paddler. I am also very competent at teaching others. But kayaking, it occurs to me, is a small part of my being. My calling, after all, is to create a world free of pain and suffering by teaching everyone how to take care of themselves and one another (mission statements are meant to be grandiose and far too large to be fulfilled in a lifetime. The things we can do in a lifetime are to meet goals, those small achievable things that serve's that for a digression?).

As I look back at the past three days and all the kayaking skills I watched being born, I realize that kayaking was only a small part of the weekend. I realize that, although I spent proportionally less time doing them, there were other very important activities taking place:

I took one of my mentees from our high school scholarship program to dinner. He is in Madison doing summer school at UW. During our 2-3 hours together, I was able to affirm his abilities to him and stimulate him intellectually. I reminded him that I was always only a phone call away. He seemed refreshed and renewed as we parted in the rain and he returned to studying for finals.

I stayed at the Max's home and spent a wonderful evening chatting with him. He is a wonderful man whom I met through our men's group. Like myself, he is an elder (a young elder to be sure), and I enjoy a feeling of safety and goodness when with him. (Healing includes taking care of myself).
I roamed the campus and recalled memories of years ago (That's Bascom Hill with a statue of Lincoln. It is said that he stands up every time a virgin passes by).

I complemented some new paddlers on their achievements. I helped some children get their small kayaks ashore. I smiled at a young lady who, sitting off by herself, seemed alone and sad. I said, "Hi," as I passed, and she smiled back.

Yes, it was a good weekend and I was, after all, able to squeeze in a little "mission work".

Paddle safe...


JohnB said...

On Friday you titled your post as "Off". Sounds like it should have be "On" as you were "on your game" as they say. . .

Sounds like a great weekend!

Alex said...

Nice post. So when does one come up with a mission or purpose in life? Not to say that I've been aimlessly wandering through my life in any way but I think I've resisted putting down my own mission statement to life for fear of what that might entail. ...Fear that I might actually have to read it and even scarier, follow it.

Silbs said...

Thanks to you both. Alex, you do it anytime, because it can change throughout life as you hone it down to its essence. I can help you do this off line. It is not always a straight forward or easy process.

Alex said...

Thanks Dick. I may have to take you up on that one of these days. I live a pretty great life as it is and I think I do a lot of the little things right but its always nice to have a bit more direction and perspective.