Sometimes it’s not what you do that matters, but why you do it. Case in point, the video above. (Don’t click on it quite yet.) Someone who has been there, done that sent it to me — this being an anniversary and all — making me wonder yet again whether finding that sense of purpose is the antidote to the choice conundrum. Maybe you’ve been there, too — doing back-breaking work that made your head spin and your neck ache, making you wonder what on earth you were thinking when you signed on — and yet, bottom line, loving every minute of it. Embracing the tangibility of it all.
On the other hand, maybe you’re still searching. In which case, click on the video. You’ll get a taste.
Purpose is where you find it. Sometimes in the strangest of places. A lifetime ago I did a story on a college buddy who, one Christmas, rallied a crew of grown-ups who knew better to spend incredibly long nights building a 60 square foot gingerbread house, replete with lights, moving parts, a chocolate-coated amusement park — including a computer controlled ferris wheel, roller coaster and carousel — hundreds of individually sculpted and hand-painted people, and dozens of chocolate and gumdrop yum-yum trees.
The biggest draw was that there was no real reason for the project — other than to rekindle the Christmas spirit. That, and the fact that once completed, the gingerbread compound was the centerpiece of a fundraiser later that month. But the magic was the soulcraft: the nightly stream of lawyers, doctors, engineers, chefs, writers — clearly folks with better things to do — who rushed in after work, chucked their neckties, their heels, and their briefcases into the corner, and ditched their iconic selves to immerse themselves in something that was literally bigger than they were. As one member of the crew, a lawyer with a loosened tie, said at the time: “The best thing about the project is that it makes you feel that everything else you are doing is less important than this.”
Purpose is like that — whether it’s gingerbread houses or presidential campaigns. It’s something that’s about more than you. You can’t always define it, but you know it when you feel it. Or when you watch this video. Turn it up.