• S.E. Burr

On Purpose

"You have sacrificed nothing and no one." Khizr Khan's words to Donald Trump have stayed with me and have sat in my conscience like I was the one accused, like I was an accomplice with our soon-to-be-president in some great crime.

What have I sacrificed for my country? There are two answers to that question. The first is, "Everything that has been asked of me," and the second is, "Almost nothing." I pay taxes. I vote. On rare occasions, I write a letter to a congress person. It doesn't feel like a lot.

Throughout my life I've experienced this odd duality, where as a citizen, as a student, as an employee, as a family member, as a friend, I've both wanted to avoid the hassle and stress of additional responsibility and I've wanted to be given that additional responsibility, because it was a sign that people had confidence in me, that I had value. I think we all experience conflicting desires, and both wanting and not wanting responsibility is very common.

I've been sketching this odd little drawing lately. Basically, it looks like this:


It's just four vertical lines, which represent the four things I see as my purposes in life. These are four things I feel I must do and be, without even always knowing why. One is writing, but otherwise, I won't tell you what they are. They're mine, and I feel very blessed to have them, because some people struggle with identifying even a single purpose in their lives. I was one of those people at one time. My advice is give it time and keep searching.

I draw the lines parallel, but in reality, they are often slanted and bump into each other. Some of my goals seem to continually conflict with one another. I keep asking myself, "Can I give up on this one? What about that one? How about this one?" And the answer, again and again, is, "No."

I ask a lot of myself, and it can be very stressful; sometimes I hate myself for it, but at the same time it's empowering that someone, even if it's me, expects so much from me. Someone (myself) keeps asking me to do things that seem impossible, and I keep trying to do them, because, well, it feels good to be asked. I know that sometimes we ask too much of ourselves and of others and that can harmful, but I think it's just as harmful to ask too little.

We're coming up on a new year. Happy New Year! This might be a very good time to think about what you're going to ask for from it. What are you going to ask for from others? What are you going to ask for from yourself?

My latest books:

Recommended previous blog posts (In this one I contradict much of what I said here.):

I Give Up: Why Being Stubborn is Good But I've Decided to Quit Anyway

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