We hear a lot about finding our purpose. I always found that really frustrating, mainly because I had no idea what my purpose was. Sure, some people are truly drawn to their purpose early on (think Oprah), but most people don’t have a clue.
Then I began to wonder if even those who think they know their purpose truly do … How can anyone, really? Jimmy Stewart’s character in “It’s a Wonderful Life” didn’t have a clue how the world would be changed without him. That’s true for each of us and it got me thinking about the ripple effect of human action or inaction and how each one impacts the universe.
If we tried to think of the effect of each choice, from turning on the water to wash our face to our decision about whether or not to have children, we’d not get out of bed, but we could, just for a moment, think about how some things ripple.
Simple things like plumbing and soap have a ripple effect. Consider the elements required to make the soap, the pipes and connections and the systems required to bring the water into your house. Each piece has people and resources attached to it: chemists, engineers, salespeople, factory workers, miners, advertising execs and graphic designers, actors to sell the soap in commercials, cameramen, distributors, delivery drivers, shippers, shelf stockers, store managers, customer service workers, cashiers, and waste treatment and garbage on the back side … and the equipment everyone uses and the energy required … all so that you can get up and wash your face.
Each action; infinite ripples …
So, that purpose everyone tells us to figure out is almost impossible because without a Jimmy Stewart moment, there’s no way for us to see the impact of each choice. However, as responsible, thinking adults, we can try to envision the impact of some of our choices:
If we choose to eat plant based food that is organic, untreated with pesticides or chemical fertilizers, then we might just save a family farmer, or reduce the cancer incidence due to the carcinogens found in those chemicals, reducing healthcare costs and increasing productivity. The farm workers who pick the crops will be healthier and so will their children because they won’t return home with pesticides on their hands and clothing … one of the people impacted might give birth to a Nobel Prize winner … ripples.