On Purpose


the fact of being deliberate or purposive.

I know– starting out with a definition is the surefire sign of a valedictorian speech or maybe a bad wedding toast. But I think this time the definition is important. The word intentionality is occasionally tossed into the bustle of college life, littered in other education buzzwords; balance, growth, engagement. Words that lost meaning for me before they had any. But recently I heard this word again and it got stuck. Wedged in my brain between the list of TEDtalks I need to watch and my top ten favorite Michael Scott quotes of all time. The fact of being deliberative or purposive.

I’m busy. We all are. But I don’t think I have ever described myself as deliberative or purposive. The second word sounds more like a dolphin than an adjective. What does it mean to exist on purpose?

Look up. Look around.

We are surrounded by noise, colors, lights, things that yell. We are in ourselves noise, colors, light and a thing that yells. We text and talk and walk and drive and laugh and by the end of the day our corneas are so tired that we drift off into a blank sleep to do it all again the next day, frenzied, forgetful, fine. We multi-task while we are multi-tasking. Our muscles have memorized the movements to shower, drive home, brush our teeth. We are auto-piloting whole hours, maybe whole days of our fragile and tiny lives, consumed by the chaos that we have convinced ourselves is living.

Intentionality is the arch nemesis of frenzy. It is not hesitant and it doesn’t say um. We can be intentional in our thoughts, our food, our clothes, our spending, our people. In little ways: we don’t mindlessly grab the same bottle of juice we have been mindlessly grabbing for 3 weeks at lunch. In big ways: we choose careers or spouses not simply because we wandered in and happened to us. In little ways: we do not let stray, straggling, bored thoughts take the wheel when we are supposed to be listening to a friend tell us about their favorite restaurant again. In big ways: we do not waste our energy on worrying and wallowing in our own self pity.

Be picky. Is this adding value to my life?

Know the damn reason why.

It doesn’t have to be a lot of value. It can be small. A piece of cake, a phone call, a quiet moment by yourself, a toothpick, a frickin’ duck.

Purposely choose your words. Weak language; I mean, I guess, you know, whatever, and stuff.

Purposely choose your people. Wholesome humans; they add, they give, you give, because you want to.

Purposely choose your food. Life tastes good; it’s green, and gold, covered in sauce or maybe life looks kind of like a breadstick.

Purposely choose your path. There’s a lot of different places; go to yours, go to many, change your mind, don’t end up there because you forgot to look up.

Millions of distractions are fighting for your mind right now. Your precious mind, time, energy is easily lost in the tumble of good things. It’s the act of choosing the right good things, for you, on purpose.

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