Purpose and Meaning

source: AshevilleTrails.com

So these two words keep repeating over and over in my head – Purpose and Meaning.

Purposeful and Meaningful – Since I was laid off I have been asking to find my purpose. A job that is something that I was meant to do – not knowing or caring what it was. As time passed – just getting out of the house to do anything felt good enough. Leaving so that 8 hours could disappear and receive a paycheck became my simple goal. I accepted a job or what I referred to as a "placeholder". I knew it was not going to fit the bill as a true personal commitment, but it checked enough boxes so I said, “Yes!”

Well, the first few weeks were brutal. They were so kind and took the time to train me, but it was overload on all levels. My brain had been on vacation for months – my eyes had not stared at a computer screen for hours, much less absorbed any new procedures or policies. It was an uphill climb for sure. Just to realize which of the 5 platforms to go find one piece of information had my head spinning. But the brain does absorb and the eyes begin to focus. Truly, I had my doubts. As I began to gain some confidence something more important happened. As the daily routine became normal and I was able to at least add a little personality to the day and joke with people to try to actually have some fun. The co-workers had all been super patient and supportive. It was a steep learning curve. But, in my heart, I was still empty and could not see what my value-add would be to this role or this very large corporation.

One Thursday three of the girls had a happy hour scheduled. They have not seen each other since December. They kindly included me. It truly is a miracle that these three young women would let the “newbie” in, not to mention I am easily the age of their mothers. I am thrilled to be included and have never been to Pluckers for happy hour, so it is all an adventure for me. I get there and find them at a booth in the back of the restaurant. It feels like life is back to normal since the pandemic. People are laughing and talking and no masks! The four of us settle into the booth and place our order. The small talk begins and some work stories are shared. One girl is pregnant, so the “cooing” over her belly begins. And then I start to feel my purpose. There is a broken heart in the group. A friend has died and grief surrounds one girl at the table. Not just sadness, but a full on crushed and shattered heart. It is the first time I have really met her. The story is not just a death. It is a mind-blowing loss on all levels and the piece that pulls me in to see my purpose – SUICIDE.

There is no way to say it lightly. There is no way to sugarcoat it. It is a word I know well. I have carried it in my heart and on my sleeve since I was 9 years old. The world does not understand. People run when you say the word. There are no adjectives, adverbs, or pronouns you can add to the sentence to make it bearable or soften the blow. It is a universal conversation stopper.  Not only had it taken the life of someone too young, too talented, and too beautiful, it then takes all the survivors down, too. It casts a black cloud around them and their grief is so complex. Very few to no one understands or can begin to show compassion for this loss and the experience that it throws you into.  

But, there I was at a Pluckers in South Austin. Sipping my cocktail with three new co-workers. What that moment did for me was give me my purpose. This was the first job I could do at my new company.  I could take this broken heart and I could bring comfort. I can sit in this space with her. Her pain is safe with me. This shattered heart will have a place to heal. I can honor this beautiful soul that she has lost and give her the space to ache, to talk, to cry, to scream, and to slowly and very slowly – begin to heal.

I now know why I said “yes” to this job. I now have a purpose and this chapter has meaning. It is not the computer programs. No, it is not answering the phones correctly or responding to an email. It has nothing to do with getting the paycheck. It is that I have found a purpose for my soul to connect with another. 

This one is going to take some time and it is going to be hard. I know – I have been there. But, all I have to do is sit and listen. All I have to do is let her know it is okay. All I can do is tell her she will make it through this horrible and painful journey.  

I will just be a safety net for her, waiting to catch her as the cracks of her heart start to repair. I can walk this path with her for this is a purpose worth living for. This is why we are here. This is what purpose is and this is what makes life meaningful.

She will not walk this path alone – I will walk with her.