I had finally arrived home, just ahead of the sunset. Exhausted, I dropped onto the couch with a sigh.
The rain sputtering on the window reminded me that I was sitting in wet clothes, but I was too tired to care.
Looking around the room, a book on a nearby shelf that was collecting dust caught my eye. I had bought it some time ago, on a whim of no real design, and it had sat there neglected ever since.
As we sometimes do, I flicked absent-mindedly through its pages; I landed on book number two. A certain paragraph seemed to stick out off of the page further than the others.
I ran my fingers along the black lettering bulging from the paper as though it was braille. I can still remember my eyes actually growing wider with a desperate gluttony as I began to hungrily devour the words presented before me:
Remember how long you have been putting this off, how many times you have been given a period of grace by the Gods and not used it. It is high time now for you to understand the universe of which you are a part, and the governor of that universe of whom you constitute an emanation: and that there is a limited circumscribed to your time – if you do not use it to clear away your clouds, it will be gone, and you will be gone, and the opportunity will not return.” Marcus Aurelius, Meditations.
I had always heard of people having a moment of clarity, which also happens to be my favourite Jay-Z song of all time, but I had never experienced one myself.
You always hear people say that when you’re truly in love, you’ll just “know” it. The same people say if you’re unsure if you’ve ever been in love, then you haven’t.
I believe the same distinguishing factors apply for a moment of clarity. Simple words, usually so easily manipulated in order to shape an idea in your head, suddenly fall short. Clarity is a poetry that is not written or spoken. It is felt with every fibre of your being.
I put down the book in complete disbelief after reading that simple paragraph. I was wordless and shapeless. That simple passage had an unbelievably powerful effect.
This is the point in the story when it ceases to resemble any sort of cliché Hollywood script.
As the protagonist, I didn’t go out that day and achieve greatness. I didn’t compose a masterpiece, save a drowning puppy, or help to end the suffering of one of the millions of children in need. I didn’t change the world, and I certainly wasn’t saving it. Put me in a spandex suit and I still wasn’t Superman.
I did, however, experience a moment of clarity that I will carry with me for the rest of my life; I saw things clearly and simply. Three things had suddenly become abundantly clear to me:
The first was that the universe is a system of infinitely complex and interrelated pieces. A clock with trillions of perfectly operating cogs and dials. As children of this universe, we are pieces of this puzzle. We are cogs and wheels in the clock of time and space. Each and every single one of us has a purpose. You and I have true meaning. We are each of us important.
The second was that our notion of time is an illusion. An illusion we’ve created. We’ve fabricated the idea of time as a quantity so we can count it and spend it and sell it and trade it the same way we do money and raw materials. Life is a single, uninterrupted and endless opportunity that we’ve for some reason separated into years, days, hours, minutes and seconds. When it comes to your true purpose, there is no fixed timeline or Monday deadline. It is never too late to pursue it. If we’ve wasted moments or decades, it does not change the opportunity that is our life. You can’t waste what doesn’t exist. Time doesn’t exist, but opportunity does as long as you draw breath.
The third, and most important, realization was that the universe had always been speaking to me, I just hadn’t been listening. It speaks to all of us.
The sun came up the morning you were born, and sunk that same evening. It’s done this every day of your life since.
Each sunrise does not represent the start of another day, a fragment of time the universe has no concept of. Each sunset does not represent another collection of wasted chances. The rising and setting sun is the universe’s constant reminder that nothing has changed while you slept. You fell asleep in a life of opportunity and you’ve woken up in its midst.
We need to stop thinking about the days that have passed. We need to stop thinking about the days that may or may not exist in our future. Think instead about how today, in this very moment, you can pursue your true calling. Today you can make a change, or make a difference. Today you can do anything.
I didn’t receive divine knowledge telling me my life’s purpose or how to pursue it that day. I was simply reminded of something I already knew. Something that, deep down, we all really know.
As miniature pieces of this wonderfully chaotic and perfect universe, we are perfectly designed for something. Every single one of us has a purpose.
We’re not too late or incapable. Those thoughts are just grey clouds in our sky as we’re chasing the sun – grey clouds that we’ve created.
So look up at the sun today. Close your eyes and let it warm your face. Let it remind you that you are basking in a perpetual moment of opportunity.
Think of the thing you’ve always wanted to do. Think of whatever it is that has always called to your soul. Then open your eyes and take that next step, big or small, in pursuing that purpose you were put on this earth for, whatever you feel it may be. You are strong enough. You are capable enough.
And you were born to do it.
Be good to each other,