The other day I watched an old Twilight Zone episode that never fails to make me cry. It’s called “Time Enough at Last” and (spoiler alert!) It’s about a Walter Mitty type guy who works at a bank, but his true love is reading. Every day at lunch hour he sneaks down into the vault and reads. At home his shrew of a wife berates him for reading. One day, he’s on his lunch break in the vault, and the world is completely destroyed by an H bomb. He of course, survives as he’s in the vault. He crawls out, surveys the wreckage, discovers he’s all alone, despairs, for a while, then finds a library and realizes that he’ll be able to cope after all, because he’ll be able to read. He settles in, as if for a long winter’s nap, and at that moment his coke bottle glasses fall off his face and shatter. And that’s when he realizes he’ll never be able to read again. That’s when I cry.
I used to think I was crying because I love to read, too, and can’t imagine a life without books. While that still holds true, I now know that the reason for my tears is something deeper. We all have a reason for being. For him, it was reading. For you it might be discovering a new type of orchid or making the perfect wedding cake. It’s different for all of us, and no reason is superior to any other. But I believe that until you know what your reason for being is, you can’t truly live a full life. Without your purpose, you have no motivation.
My reason for being is travel. It has to do with this family trait called “Enthusiosity” that I’ve blogged about previously. I was born to find out what’s beyond the next horizon. I want to know how people in different cultures live their daily lives. When I travel, I am truly alive. I’ve been to 18 countries so far, and have explored a great deal of my own. Circumstances have made it impossible for me to travel in the past 4 years, and that’s my own private version of hell on earth. I can only hope things will improve in the future. But at least I know my purpose. That’s a starting point.
You have to have a starting point to run the race of life. Ready. Set. Go!