For the last year or so, I’ve been haunted by a thought. A question actually. It’s a question born from within. Not one issued by my peers. It emerges from my very nature. My initial instinct is to combat this question with an onslaught of justification and excuses. Yet, once my mind has finished constructing its case, I’m always left in doubt. My facade of rhetoric may hold ground in my head, but not in my heart where truth reins.
Will the world be a better place because of the work I contribute?
It’s a question that has plagued mankind throughout the ages. It stems from an enduring passion to create something meaningful. To build something out of nothing and pass it on. Our adolescent years are filled to the brim with preparation. We prepare for elementary school, followed by high school. Next comes college, and finally graduate school. All this busyness left us with no ear to hear the real question. Will the world be a better place because of the work we contribute?
What is the world but a thread of family, friends and strangers? With these faces in mind, we must learn to gauge the significance of our work not by self, but by them. When challenged to our core, it won’t be selfish motivation that compels us forward. Unlike selfishness and greed, the passion to contribute to the wellbeing of others will remain.
Somehow, our hearts intuitively know what that contribution could be. Yet, our lives are often governed by our heads, not our hearts. The head reminds us of our fear of failure, financial loss, reputation, lack of time and talent. The head works hard to block the wisdom of the heart. I’ve found that my greatest battles are those between my head and my heart.
Each day goes as fast as it comes, and the moment to begin never seems quite right. In all our preparing for good jobs, have we failed to equip ourselves to make a difference? I wonder if I’m the only one who missed his boat? These are the battles that rage between our head and our heart.
So, what do I make of all this? Again, the heart may provide wisdom on the matter. This is was it tells me. The head is right, time is passing faster than you’d like. For this reason, begin your life’s greatest work this instant! Perhaps the very education gained for selfish ambition is reconciled when given for the aid others. Maybe there never was a boat? Did your mind imagine a missed boat to support a life of apathy?
The question remains. But then it occurs to me that it’s not a yes or no answer. Perhaps a life lived is like a rugged landscape filled with a gradation of friends, family, lessons learned, failures, victories, books read, and stories written. Will the world be a better place because of the work I contribute? I can’t say, and that is terrifying. Perhaps it’s not a question one can answer himself. Therefore, I resolve to begin today, pioneer my own path, give a damn, and listen to my heart. Life is precious gift, use it wisely and do work that matters.