Life of a Twenty-Something

Just a twenty-something living the dream, trying to check off the bucket list, one entry at a time

The Purpose of Life

“To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other and to feel. That is the purpose of life.” 

So I’m not exactly sure of the origin of this quote. All I know is that I saw The Secret Life of Walter Mitty last weekend (fantastic movie by the way) and in the movie, this quote is the motto of the (now defunct) Life Magazine. Long story short, the movie follows Walter Mitty as he leaves his boring, ordered life behind to track down an elusive photographer so Walter can find the negative for the cover photo of the final issue of Life Magazine. (By the way, Life was a real photojournalism magazine but it folded sometime in the 70s).

Anyway, the movie is amazing. But my favorite part of the whole thing is that quote.

“To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other and to feel. That is the purpose of life.” 

Who am I to preach about the purpose of life? I’m 20 years old. I really haven’t lived enough, seen enough, experienced enough to give a definitive purpose of life. But then again, is anyone? What even is ‘purpose’? Is there really any person on this earth (excluding whatever higher power/being you may believe in) that can give a be-all, end-all blanket statement about the purpose of life?

I sure as hell hope not. There are over 7 billion people in this world. And each person is different from the last, all 7 billion of them. With so many people, how is it even possible that the purpose of everyone’s life subscribes to some blanket statement?

I firmly believe that every person has a purpose to life. No being is without purpose. Whether your purpose is selling shoes, raising a family, curing a cancer, whatever. No matter how small you might think it is, you have a purpose. And every single damn one is different. We need to stop thinking that our purpose in life has to be some grand, earth-shattering, history-changing thing. Maybe your purpose in life is to go to work, raise a family and be happy? What’s wrong with that? Absolutely nothing. Sure, people halfway across the world won’t be affected by it, but what does that matter? You’re not changing the whole world’s lives, but you’re changing someone’s life. That, my friend, is purpose.

So we’ve established that everyone has a purpose. But believing everyone has a purpose and actually knowing your specific purpose are two totally different things. Some people figure it out early in life. Some people take decades. It’s a hard concept to chase.

“To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other and to feel. That is the purpose of life.”

This statement encompasses so many things. Traveling the world, learning about new cultures are givens, almost cliches. But it’s more than that.

Maybe the purpose of life (according to this statement) is to learn to have perspective and to find it. To know where to look and how to seek, to really “see behind walls.” To feel, and I mean really feel. To forget our societal conditioning of begin stoic. To really look at another person and to “find each other and to feel.”

Maybe the purpose of life is to find all these things. Maybe the purpose of life is that we never find these things, but we keep seeking, keep moving forward.

Maybe the purpose of life is that we just do the best we can, put one foot in front of the other and keep trying until we get it right.

I don’t know. Does anyone know? Does it matter if anyone knows? All I know is that I have dreams, I have ideas of purpose, and I’m going to do my damnedest to try and figure it out. And really, that’s all we can ask for.

“To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other and to feel. That is the purpose of life.”

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One comment on “The Purpose of Life

  1. Jessie Jimenez
    May 25, 2014

    Makes sense to me. I like this message because I feel I made a difference to one person’s life. And to only dream it would ever happen yet come true is the most wonderful thing that I can even imagine.

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This entry was posted on January 4, 2014 by and tagged , , , , .
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