I slammed the door from the garage, still fuming, even after the 20 minute drive from the course. I walked in and announced to no one in particular that I was going to sell my golf clubs, if fact, I might even put a ‘ FREE-TAKE ME’! sign on them and not even bother with the sale. In her 100% Cajun style Jan said, “You know your life is good when the biggest thing you have to be upset about is your golf game!” Now how am I going to respond to that?
She said it in a nonjudgmental, matter-of-fact way as if she was reporting that it might rain later today or that she had filled the car with gas. So consequentially, I couldn’t even get a good argument out of the deal, much less empathy. As usual, it took less than five minutes of viewing the evening news to jolt me out of my self-imposed pity party and regain a perspective on what really is important. I learned we still have politicians making stupid and mean-spirited comments, children are still suffering and in crisis in the Middle East and on our own borders and we haven’t figured out how to live up to our obligations to our returning veterans nor keep our middle class solvent. How do a couple double (triple) bogies stack up against that?
For some reason, the above incidents brought me back to two words; purpose and intentionality. (Danny Webster defines purpose as an important objective to be reached while he defines intention as an act done by design.) I’ve had an interest in writing about these two cousin words and concepts but not knowing how to do it or what to say. I’m evidently not alone in my quandary over this concept, as evidenced by Rick Warren’s wildly popular book—still selling well a decade later—about designing our lives with an intentional purpose. Add to that countless other publications, all lying out various recipes to attain this illusive commitment of single-mindedness. Many people must be asking similar questions. It seems to me that Warren’s resolve is to offer us a way to find that purpose—first and foremost in our spiritual lives, but also in our relationships with others and our obligations to the earth—and then to intentionally set out to accomplish said subject. What’s my purpose and intention in playing golf? To get better? To get down on myself when I’m on the green in two, then three putt? To be grateful that I can spend time outdoors, using all my limbs and senses and enjoying friendships? I need to keep trying to figure that out, but more importantly, countless other topics vastly more significant.
When Miss Jan and I talk in the evening and reflect on the day that we have just been privileged to experience and share, we frequently comment on good and affirming things that happened, seemingly serendipitously. We remark about what a coincidence something was or how an occurrence was icing on the cake, but that is the crux of my issue with purpose and intention. Accidental or unintended positive consequence may result in a “feel good” emotion for us to relish short term, but is it the best we can do? Or do we have the insight and capacity to not entrust these phenomena to chance but instead to resolve in our hearts and minds to set out to intentionally accomplish deeds of purpose?
This is by no means an original thought. We talk about living purposefully, paying it forward and other expressions which make the same point. However, the difference-maker for me is to discipline myself each day to consciously remain aware of living with a purpose rather than just be stupidly grateful when I get frosting.