Purpose

Lately, I’ve become more and more interested in purpose — living life purposefully — living with definite aim. Reading Start has helped; praying for wisdom has helped. I am trimming or eliminating things in my life in order to achieve what I feel is most important. When you are focused like this, other things, no matter how cool they are, must be abandoned. I can speak about this because for years I was a typical geek, interested in whatever new, shiny techy thing rolled down the pike. Now such breathless tech hype leaves me cold.

I am not a Luddite by any means, but technology must actually be useful — it must deliver improvement to mt life — if I am going to use it. More and more tech things enable time wasting and not achievement. Oh, wow, neat, here’s another game where you will live in for four months. When you wake up from your game coma, what has happened in the real world? You don’t know because you didn’t care? Gee, nothing could ever go wrong living like that, right?

Oh, here’s another app that lets you send data from your phone to your computer, because apparently it’s way too difficult to Find Your Freaking phone! Can’t miss Aunt Bertha’s endless status updates about her colonitis, or the 300th picture that Selfie Girl has added today, can you? You must stay online, plugged in, connected to all the effluvium and errata pushed out by people you hardly know or you don’t feel alive. Horrors of horrors, you might MISS SOMETHING.

I’ve always thought of technology as enabling; this program allows you to compose music; this one allows you to type and print; and so on. I just don’t see the point of applications like PushBullet (which I’ve tried and still don’t see any reason for). I can subscribe by email to Steam updates, so why would I care about them in the middle of the day?

I don’t see how most geeks, and most people, really achieve anything. To achieve means you must be focused, and to be focused, means you cannot be distracted. What has the tech world given us lately that is actually useful? The giants have done nothing but tread water at best; all the action seems to me to be on places like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, and even those places have a serious bent towards shiny, new, gotta-have-it, disposable trend of the month noise. Switchfoot once said, “If we’re adding to noise, turn off this song.” There’s just so much noise in life that I don’t have time for more of it.

And really, that’s just the first part of purpose — noting what isn’t contributing to your life and removing it. Then you can see clearly what remains and focus upon it. Doing this requires that you put an end to certain thought patterns, however, one of which is that “I CAN do it all!” You cannot, and you cannot because you cannot simultaneously do more than one thing well. No-one can multitask well — and by multitask, I mean do important things that require concentration. Yes, you can nurse a newborn and watch Oprah at the same time, but neither one of those requires focus. You cannot setup a router and watch Die Hard 4 at once, because either you are paying attention to the movie and screwing up the router, or paying attention to the router and not really being part of the experience.

Another important part of all this is being completely there, in whatever moment you find yourself in (hat tip: Chuck Swindoll). This is a quality of life issue — living life the way we are designed and meant to live it. We are not meant to be frazzled people trying to cram in as many things as possible. We are meant to intelligently choose the things that are important and then do them with all our might (Ecclesiastes 9:10). This requires focus, dedication, attention, and purpose. You must live wisely if you are to live well. Too many people instead attempt to do as much as possible as though quantity could ever atone for a lack of quality — that is like eating 10 Pop-tarts because cooking bison takes longer. Seriously, what?

Underlying all of these is a word people avoid with all their effort — maturity. For years, I railed against maturity, too, because I thought it was old, stuffy, fusty, and worst of all, boring. Nobody guided me; nobody told me that my preconception was wrong. Instead I had to learn the hard way that partying my whole life (in my own way) would never get me where I wanted to go. I did eventually realize that being mature doesn’t mean having no fun or learning how to say “Get off my yard” in that annoyed-at-the-world tone favored by people who have given up on life. Being mature means living efficiently and effectively, and is a part of living well, that is to say, living with purpose. Being mature means that you don’t waste your time on things you cannot change, but you identify what you can (and no, this is not fatalism, but realism), and then do everything you can.

So here’s to greater focus and greater effectiveness, living wisely and living well, living with purpose.

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