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Life as Repaying a Debt of Gratitude
Do I want to live my life on a mission? Yes, but who would I be willing to accept my assignment from?
I remember the moment I broke a sweat in my Yale interview when the interviewer asked me, “tell me, what are you passionate about?”
I was 17 years old. I wasn’t aware that I had to have my passions and life-goals worked out. My 22 year-old interviewer apparently took this as a given. My experience was that even valedictorians and class presidents (I was neither) were given far more opportunities to pad their resumes than opportunities to better know themselves and chart the course of their lives from the inside-out. I nervously made something up on the spot about art, hoping that there wouldn’t be a too-incisive follow-up question. The rest of the interview remains a blur in my memory.
I’ve since discovered my passions and why I had trouble 20 years ago articulating them.
I’m passionate about life itself. Yes, I know this is vague, but what can I do? Blame my Creator. He made me this way.
I can try and be more specific. I am passionate about people’s lives as stories of learning, growth, paradigm-shifting, character development, the way other people expand our horizons, and the tapestry of relationships we forge with them, how they overcome challenges and how they sometimes succumb to them.
Like I said, life itself.
I invite you to join me in this hopefully-weekly sharing of ideas I’m ambiguously (yet accurately) calling “The Expression of Life.”
I will share a single idea rooted in the timeless wisdom of the Torah that I have found to illuminate the inner world of our modern lives.
Here’s today’s simple but foundational thought: a life without purpose is no life at all, but perhaps the fear of someone wrongly determining it for us keeps us wandering and occasionally wondering.
Unless the same Someone Who put us here in the first place could give us a clue...
Well, He has.
When we truly take stock of the assets invested in us: our natural strengths, our intuitions, our mental abilities, our gifts when working with people, our creative gifts, our emotional skills, our wealth of experiences and the people who we’ve been privileged to learn from — we should start to feel deep appreciation.
If we don’t turn away from it, this appreciation becomes gratitude, and gratitude gives way to a feeling of mission — a debt of gratitude not to be paid back to someone, (even the Someone with a capital S), but to be paid forward because that is precisely the direction our purpose is pointing us towards.