The other day I observed two strangers exit their cars at the same time and commence walking toward a store. Upon entering the store, one went to the right and the other to the left. About 30 minutes later, the stranger who entered on the left side of the store, returned to her car. Her task was completed. I remained in my position for about 45 minutes and the other stranger, never left the store during my stay.
I spent some time thinking about this scene and was reminded of life; of how we enter the world alone, will meet others on our journey, but we all have unique assignments. Moreover, a specific time has been given in which to complete our assignments. Some of us are clear on what we are to do, while others wonder aimlessly along, doing whatever comes naturally. While there is no crime in the latter position, in the final analysis, it distinguishes a fulfilled, from an unfulfilled life.
Psychologist Erik Erikson is known for his development of “Eight Stages of Man,” which we all experience throughout life. At each stage, there is a dichotomy of situations. Experiencing the correct situation, determines the success at the successive stages and the quality of each person’s life. Experiencing the alternative path, often leads to a reduced meaningful life, culminating in less productivity and regrets.
The eighth and final stage is called Integrity versus Despair. This stage is experienced during late adulthood. At this stage, an individual reflects on the past. If his/her review reveals a life well spent, Integrity will be achieved; if not, the retrospective glances, will more than likely reveal doubt or gloom, leading to Despair (Santrock 2018). I am certain we all have images and memory of that one elderly person, who always seemed grouchy or miserable; that is what Erikson referenced as gloomy.
We have all been placed on this earth for a purpose; it is up to us to make that purpose known. When we look upon each other, it should be with a view to learn from him/her, or to assist. There should be little room for envy or jealousy, as we do not know his/ her struggles. The sooner we discover our assignment and begin to complete it, the sooner we realize how little time we have for non-productivity and reveling.
We should all aspire to live our best lives; enhancing our existence and helping others along our path, to do the same. This keeps us occupied and gives us a great sense of purpose. As Jesus admonished us to have life more abundantly, he wants us to enjoy our lives and fill each day with destiny and goodwill, leading to an end filled with integrity.
Perhaps you may have had early experiences that have left you doubtful, scarred and hopeless; reach out and ask for assistance, as you still have a life purpose. It never matters how you began, but rather how you ‘wise up’ to enrich the middle, while securing the end. This is your journey and only you can walk it. It is not always a troubled walk, but it is tolerable. No other is better, or higher than you. Perhaps, others have already figured out their paths and are boldly traversing it.
Eventually, the second stranger exited the store with several packages; items, I hope to augment her travel …
Point to Ponder: Imagine how peaceful this world would flow, if everyone finds his purpose and sets off to fulfill it.
• Doctor Pam is an advice column that is featured every week in this journal. Your letters and comments are encouraged. You may e-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Dr. Pam is a Clinical Psychologist trained in all areas of mental health.