“Life is monotonous when it’s meaningless. Life is not monotonous when it has purpose.” This is the opening line in Archbishop Fulton Sheen’s book “Life is Worth Living.” The statement is so simple and so true. Yes – Life IS monotonous when there is no meaning when there is seemingly no point to it.
Archbishop Sheen interchanges the words “purpose” and “goal”. He says that when people have no goal or overall purpose, they tend to concentrate instead on meaningless activity so that they feel like they are making progress in life when in all truth, they are not and become frustrated. We tend to confuse activity, any kind of activity with productivity.
To punctuate this Archbishop Sheen tells a story about a sculptor who, after hacking and cutting away at a block of marble for days was asked, “What are you making?” The sculptor replied, “I really don’t know. I haven’t seen the plans.”
It’s an amusing story from a master storyteller. Can you imagine that Michelangelo’s David simply emerged from a giant chunk of marble simply because Michelangelo just started whacking away at it mindlessly with a chisel? No, I can’t either.
The moral of Archbishop Sheen’s story should be applied to our lives. The beauty of our life can only emerge in its fullness when we have a goal, a purpose and then make a plan to achieve it, then finally actually go for it. Our plans can certainly include our lower or temporal goals. We the laity – “have a special vocation . . . to seek the kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and directing (ordering) them according to God’s will”. (Lumen Gentium 31)
Indeed, per Archbishop Sheen, life does not seem worth living if it has no goal or purpose. On the other hand, life is thrilling if it has a destiny. What’s your destiny?
- Do you have a plan for the upcoming year? If not, start by making a basic one that identifies just three things that will make 2020 your best year yet. Make your goals big enough to inspire you but not so crazy that you will not even try to work toward them. Take small incremental steps, little by little, day by day, week by week, month by month to achieve them. Celebrate when you make a goal you set out to achieve, then so as not to get cocky, replace it with another goal you have in mind. This is the way of life. Step by step, building, making progress. It doesn’t sound exciting but when you are working toward your destiny, you know even in your most boring days, it all adds up to something great.
- If you do annual planning, is your plan big enough? Does your plan extend beyond your temporal goals to include your purpose – to do God’s will?