The Imperfect Purpose
I had the greatest opportunity to travel far and wide when I was young. It wasn’t that I was an economically privileged teenager. Actually, quite the opposite. My family somehow managed to find a way to send me to study in Germany during high school and then during college, I took out student loans to study in Italy. Later with my music I toured so much that I added countless pages to my passport. I didn’t need a lot of stuff. What I needed was purpose, experience, a heart full of memories. And that’s what I went out to get!
If your house is full of memories and your heart is full of stuff, what does that say about your life? Or what if it’s the other way around? Your house is full of stuff and your heart is full of memories? What does that say about your life? Now, at almost 42 years old, I have both a house and a heart full of precious remembrances that make me who I am today. I care deeply about having a purpose and about the memories that come along with that, no matter my economics, nor age.
Do you ever ask yourself if all of life’s hard work makes it worth it? All the imperfections, the blistering, all the boring, all the arguments with your wife, your husband, your kids, all the commands of your boss, your business, your cable bill? Do you ever wonder if there is a bow of a ship to stand on and not know where it’s going? All you can see is the horizon in front of you? Do you ever wonder if there is a road you can drive down, leave your stuff behind to collect dust, while filling your heart with new clean, fresh memories? Or is it just easier to stay put in your perfect house and dust grandma’s china every now and then?
I was recently watching a good friend sing with her band. I stood leaning against a post at the Saxon Pub on a Thursday night, wishing nobody was watching me watch. Because I am also a musician, I can associate what it takes to do what she and her band mates were doing. I know what it means to bring every note and every moment from your toes, through your knee caps, past your thighs, hip bones, belly button, ribs, through your vocal box, beyond your lips, busting into the metal net of the microphone, through cables, cords, electricity breaking free out of the speakers into the ears and hearts all the way down to the toes of each audience member. At least, that’s what we strive to accomplish on stage. I scanned the audience and I knew by the looks on their face, by their body language in anticipation, that Patrice Pike was succeeding at reaching them at every perfect moment. Then I asked myself, “But, why?” Because she knows there is purpose in music.
The music industry specifically is one of the most difficult, especially today in this electronic paradigm where people expect to listen for free. Of course, there are great things about it, like exposure! But if a skilled plumber came to my house to fix the sink and I told him that I would post his business on my Facebook page in exchange for not paying the bill, I don’t think things would work out so great. Not for the plumber, anyway.
Free internet radio aside, I believe what makes all of our hard work worth it is that we have a an opportunity to change something, we have an imperfect purpose, which is perfect. Whether you are on stage, at a desk, powdering a baby’s bottom, or being hired to dust someone else’s grandma’s china, you have a purpose. If your desk job doesn’t make you feel like you have a purpose, then find it elsewhere, or rethink how you are thinking. Think about not buying the next new gadget, but rather spend those hard-earned dollars on an airline ticket to some place you’ve never been before! Go alone if you have to! My mother recently said “I don’t like eating at a restaurant alone.” I told her that it’s one of the greatest things to do! Sitting alone, slowly eating your pasta, sipping on your Chianti, and taking in all the strangers around you, somehow makes you feel closer to something. There’s something glorious in being anonymous somewhere in the big world that makes you know yourself better. Not to mention, it’s an opportunity to exercise your mind’s ability to play make-believe and quietly, to yourself, tell the story of every stranger in the place. “That guy sitting over there is Joe. He’s a plumber.”
Why does a plumber plumb? And why should you travel somewhere exotic? Why should you go listen to music?
We aren’t here to be the best engineer of the newest best microchip in our every waking hour. We aren’t put here to make a perfect marriage. We aren’t here to put imperfect stuff in our perfect houses. We are here to create memories, to affect change, to open the door for a stranger, to take chances, to have moments on the stage at the Saxon Pub or moments of listening while leaning against a post.
It's all imperfectly perfect the way it is because everything is by design for a reason whether it's a career, a lesson, a painful or a joyful experience, there is a purpose. Every “send” on your gmail, every nut and bolt tightened, every smile or wave to a passing driver, every “I love you” has a purpose. Every ship, road, airline ticket, dining room table, grandma’s china, and every dinner-for-one have purpose. So, do the hard work and remember to fill your house and hearts with great memories.