Many of us report that we “want to live with purpose,” or say things like, “I want our lives to be meaningful.” Stated simply, the purpose, intention, or objective of life is to continually learn, understand and practice ways of becoming a better human. In so doing we can relate better with and make life better for others. Now in my 56th year of life, I have learned some difficult lessons through the experiences I have had the good fortune to endure. These range from being born into a first-generation Italian-American family. I had a rich multi-cultural experience living in NYC in the mid-1960s. Growing up in that environment I learned that I was part of a deep heritage, enjoyed wonderful foods, wine, lots of passionate, hard-working, wonderfully hospitable people who loved deeply and who were passionate.
My Depression-era grandparents, great uncles, and great aunts taught me that working hard, being frugal, having integrity, and enjoying relationships were the most important things in life. I’d say my takeaway was that our work serves the sole purpose to fund our life, which is synonymous with relationships. “La Famiglia!” my relatives used to say with such enthusiasm [meaning, the family is the most important thing in our lives; everything we do serves our family]. Family meals were the context where this was most powerfully illustrated. Everyone was welcomed and there was always room at the table. For my Italian family, food was a barometer of life: if you had a good appetite, life was good, if not, someone would ask, “What’s wrong?” “are you not feeling well?” . . .
In that family I learned that together, we could get through any difficulty: shared burdens are divided and were more easily managed. Also, shared joys were multiplied. I experienced the joy and relief that come with both giving and receiving generously. My Nana [maternal grandmother] illustrated this beautifully. She dropped out of 8th grade in 1929 to raise her siblings when her mother died. Throughout her life, Nana gave generously to anyone who had a need. She never had much in a material sense, but she never wanted for anything. She lived an abundant life.
Today the very essence of life for me happens in savoring moments with the people in my life. Enjoying relationships with family, friends, neighbors, is synonymous with living for me today. My work serves to fund my life; my work is not my life. That is, I work so I can enjoy my time preparing and sharing meals, hiking, traveling, recreating, and doing life with my family, and friends.
We can all get more money and material things are replaceable. However, time is getting spent whether or not we savor it, or enjoy it. Time can’t be saved, therefore Time is our most precious resource and I do not want to waste it. To live with purpose, I put those things that I value most onto my schedule: Sleep, time with God, meals, exercise, breaks, time outside, time with family, friends, going for motorcycle rides, and doing only enough work to fund these activities. I have learned that we never “find time” rather we must “make time” that is, schedule what we value most. This for me is living with intention. Peace to you.