“The meaning of life is to find your gift.
The purpose of life is to give it away.”
– William Shakespeare
I read this quote earlier this week and it’s served as a reflection ever since.
What is my gift? Am I giving it away? Have I found meaning? Am I fulfilling my purpose?
Honestly, this was a great exercise for me.
I do not have a gift of science; I will not be giving anyone a cure for cancer. I do not have the gift of math; I will not be giving anyone investment advice or balanced government budget. I do not have the gift of music; I will not be giving inspiration through song.
There are a lot of things that I’m not, and, by extension, there are a lot of things that I am not able to contribute to the world.
But, what I figured out I do have is the gift of visual awareness. I love to observe. It’s just the way I’m wired. And, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to photograph the things that I see and share with people in the hopes of bringing them happiness. So in a way, I’ve found small meaning and purpose in my corner of the world. I can’t fix a busted water pipe or install tile. I can’t create blueprints for a house or building. But just maybe I can see something that more talented people might otherwise miss and give them joy — or even see the world a little differently. And I really like that. This realization felt like a big hug.
It goes back to that saying “Do what you can, where you are, with what you have.”
Even if our gifts aren’t big or obvious, we can still give them away. And even if we only make a difference to a few people, there’s still enormous value in that. Just ask those few people.
I can’t wait to ask my kids what they think their meaning/purpose is. And I hope they enjoy the self-reflection as much as I did.
By the way, the above photos were taken this evening around my neighborhood. The puppy is Alfie, a micro-miniature Goldendoodle. I saw him while I was out for a walk. The little complementary colors sign was in the garden at a nearby school. Somehow it had escaped me that this elementary school has an ENORMOUS garden — including a short walking path and a section of plants for butterflies. Between the puppy cuteness and the flower gorgeousness, it was total overload.