Friday, September 26, 2008

Finding Purpose

"One needs something to believe in, something for which one can have whole-hearted enthusiasm. One needs to feel that one's life has meaning, that one is needed in this world." ~ Hannah Senesh

To finish my thoughts from last weekend on life, loss and finding purpose, the drive back from the funeral last Friday was a long and quiet one as I tried to turn over every rock of life in my head.

I slept little, clutching J tightly in an effort to find comfort. I had a charity 5k for a friend of mine Saturday morning. I awoke before the sun, drove an hour and a half to Fort Worth, and began to realize life's full potential.

I arrived at the walk early so I u-turned and stopped by a Starbucks I had seen along the way. I usually will not go anywhere in public wearing cotton stretch pants but decided life was too short to worry about it. Eight dollars later I was back on the road and parked at the walk.

I called a few of my teammates to see if anyone else had yet arrived. I decided not to cower in the parking lot and walked by myself down the road to the registration tents and starting line. There I ran into an old friend of mine Panda, who I hadn't seen since her horrific car accident two years prior. I can't believe I hadn't made the effort to see how she'd been since then. We talked until our other teammates arrived, all of which I either knew -- or should have known -- in high school and have kept in touch with over the years.

Our team captain was our inspiration. Last year the bouncy blonde was diagnosed with kidney disease and, since the medications aren't working, it looks as if she'll need a kidney transplant in the very near future. We're hoping her younger sister's a match. It was so great to see her. She looked well but tired, and genuinely happy that we were all there to be with her. At the end of the day, her biggest fear isn't her failing kidney -- it's the thought of not being able to have another child. But she smiles through it, knowing that whatever's supposed to happen will.

As I stood amongst our team, catching up with old friends, and as I stood amongst the other participants, all running for their inspirations in the fight against kidney disease, I felt something wash over me. As I looked around, I realized that this was the feeling I've been missing. The need and want to help people. To be there for people. To connect deeply with people. To be needed by people.

I have a bad habit of putting things off, of breaking commitments -- whether to myself or others. Here I've been worried about not accomplishing my dreams in life when all I've really been doing is wasting time. Thinking instead of reacting. Shying away from situations that may be a little uncomfortable when it could be an opportunity to connect with someone or something. Sure, it seems like the same old "live life to the fullest" crap -- but it's the feeling that's different.

After the walk we all went to lunch and sat for two hours chatting, laughing, sharing. We talked about plans for the annual Christmas party that Curly throws at his lake house -- which I've always had an excuse out of because I couldn't find the perfect dress to wear or because I wasn't in the mood to mingle. Not this year. This year I'll be there with bells on. It'll be me in the photos slinging back martinis and dancing with the Christmas tree.

I sat there listening to everyone, realizing how much we've grown since high school years ago -- but also realizing how much we're still the same. It made me think about who else in my life I enjoy having around but have lost contact with. I'm horrible with returning phone calls, so the list grew larger in my mind.

When it was time to go, I was so internally happy. Happy that we were all able to support our team captain and old friend. Happy that our small team was able to raise $1,400 to support the National Kidney Foundation. Happy that I was able to spend time with everyone and reconnect. Happy that I didn't waste another Saturday morning just sleeping.

I checked the mail when I got home and I had received another purple and white brochure from Team In Training, supporting the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. I've wanted to complete a marathon with them since college, but had always found an excuse away from it. I checked the box for an informational meeting and set it with the stack of bills to be mailed.

I awoke early Sunday morning, which is a huge feat for me to awaken before 10 any day of the week. But imagine how much more I could accomplish in my day if I got up two or three hours earlier? I poked sleeping J in the stomach and uttered music to his ears: "Take me fishing." He was up in a flash and we stopped by Taco Cabana for a breakfast burrito, hooked up the boat and headed to Lake Grapevine. We each caught three bass, and it felt so great to be on the lake again. During our move over the summer we didn't get too many chances to fish, so it was great to get back out there and soak up nature. And we needed a little "couples therapy."

My attitude all week has been different. I've gotten up early each day (it's actually not as painful as I thought it would be), accomplished several things around the house I've been putting off, got caught up at work, had lunch with an old neighbor, stopped sweating (most) of the small stuff like J leaving his boots in the living room, and actually stopped to talk to a few of the neighbors instead of ducking into my garage like I normally do. And it's been great.

I know I've rambled on in this post, so if you've made it this far then kudos. It's hard to put what I'm feeling into actual words without the true meaning getting lost, but I had to try -- hence the reason this post comes a little late. I urge everyone to think about something in their life that has become habit -- like me sleeping in every morning or truly giving yourself to others -- and change it. There's no telling what you will accomplish, how the feeling of being needed will strike you, what higher purpose your moments on this earth will serve.


J said...

I had a similar "awakening" of sorts this past summer when I started hanging out with a few of my old high school friends. Friendship takes work and its really not that hard.

Thanks for the post - It definitely helped me remember that I shouldn't sweat the small stuff and work harder to talk to people and be involved in their lives.

~Mrs. Guru~ said...

Sorry to hear about the funeral. You sound like you live close to me! I live in Fort Worth! I also had an awakening this year when we moved from Fort Worth to Houston and I realized how much I take things for granted. Even God. I truly am trying to change a lot of things for the better.

Miss Caught Up said...

Helping people feels liberating to me. No matter the task. Whether in charity or even just someone asking for consultation at work, it gives me a sense of meaning or purpose as to why I'm here... I guess. :)

Trish said...

Thanks for this post and the January one on Benjamin Button - seemed relevant to 'where I'm at' (and interesting to read/well-written)