At my previous company, a wise old VP, who I will call Wayne, in his last year at work before his retirement, came into my office. He was sharing some wisdom with me, something related to our business, or advice about people in general – I can’t remember what exactly he was bestowing on me. I remember feeling reflective and nostalgic given his pending retirement, and told him our conversations were always illuminating, always so helpful to me professionally and personally.
His energy dropped a bit – he took a moment to reflect inside himself and then responded to me, “All this knowledge and ability and wisdom… I’m in the final chapter of my life… kinda makes ya wonder what the point was! I accumulated all of it, the answers I was seeking, just in time to die!” Wayne, known for this dry type of humor, was half joking with me, but I could also see it was something he was actually feeling, that there was some truth in that jest.
He left my office and I thought some more. It’s true – we will all die. So what is the point?
Quickly coming to mind was the Bible verse that goes something like, “not to us but to Your name be the glory.”
Regardless of original intent to gain wisdom and knowledge, the inevitable higher purpose of our personal growth is that the species will evolve for our having done so. It will become stronger, healthier; more whole, more intelligent, creative, prosperous, connected; happier. So, whatever I gain in my life couldn’t possibly be for my glory, when I am so temporary, a mere blip in time. The spiritual work I do in my life is really for the glory of Life itself, for the benefit of the species. Wayne had made his own life freer, found solutions for his personal obstacles, and in doing so became an example of what’s possible for anyone who came in contact with him. His personal evolution has irreversibly affected the Whole, as it were. It was not all in vain.
With big picture thinking THIS big, our obstacles and limitations feel smaller, simpler. When we’re not living with the pressure to survive or succeed, when our sights are set on a purpose larger than ourselves, the pressure releases and grace and possibilities are left in its place.