When he came to Einstein, the famous scientist reached in his vest pocket. He couldn’t find his ticket, so he reached in his trouser pockets. It wasn’t there, so he looked in his briefcase but couldn’t find it. Then he looked in the seat beside him. He still couldn’t find it.
“Dr. Einstein, I know who you are,” the conductor told him. “We all know who you are. I’m sure you bought a ticket. Don’t worry about it.”
Einstein nodded appreciatively. The conductor continued down the aisle punching tickets. As he was ready to move to the next car, he turned around and saw the great physicist down on his hands and knees looking under his seat for his ticket.
The conductor rushed back and said, “Dr. Einstein, Dr. Einstein, don’t worry, I know who you are. No problem. You don’t need a ticket. I’m sure you bought one.”
Einstein looked at him and said, “Young man, I too, know who I am. What I don’t know is where I’m going.”
I came to know the story above while reading an e-mail forwarded to me by a friend. The anecdote was shared by Dr. William Franklin Graham, Jr. – more popularly known as Billy Graham – when he was invited by leaders in Charlotte , North Carolina (where he was born) to a luncheon in his honor.
It was in January 2000 and Dr. Graham was 86 years old at that time. Initially, the well-known Christian evangelist hesitated to accept the invitation because he struggles with Parkinson’s disease, a disorder that affects nerve cells, or neurons, in a part of the brain that controls muscle movement. “We don’t expect a major address,” the leaders assured him. “Just come and let us honor you.” So he agreed.
Dr. Graham came and after those wonderful things were said about him, he stepped to the rostrum, looked at the crowd, and shared the story of Albert Einstein. Then, he continued, “See the suit I’m wearing? It’s a brand new suit. My wife, my children, and my grand children are telling me I’ve gotten a little slovenly in my old age. I used to be a bit more fastidious. So I went out and bought a new suit for this luncheon and one more occasion.
“You know what that occasion is? This is the suit in which I’ll be buried. But when you hear I’m dead, I don’t want you to immediately remember the suit I’m wearing. I want you to remember this: I not only know who I am, I also know where I’m going.”
Good for him. But what about you, my friend? Do you know where you’re going? I was reminded of the 1975 movie entitled, Mahogany. It tells the story of a poor African-American girl (played by Diana Ross, who received an Oscar nomination for her performance) who becomes a successful Paris fashion designer. Remembering the happiness she had in the past, she faces the reality of a loveless future and decisions that brought her to this point in her career.
In a song written by Michael Masser and Gerald Goffin, Ross sang these famous lines: “Do you know where you’re going to? Do you like the things that life is showing you? Where are you going to? Do you know? Do you get what you’re hoping for? When you look behind you there’s no open door. What are you hoping for? Do you know?”
Do you know what is the main purpose of your life here is on earth? If you don’t have any idea, then you’re lost. You will never get to where you are going unless you know your destination. “To forget one’s purpose is the commonest form of stupidity,” Friedrich Nietzsche once said. Seneca also said, “When a man does not know what harbor he is making for, no wind is the right wind.”
If you know where you’re going, then you have sense of direction. British playwright George Bernard Shaw reiterated, “This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.”
You have your own purpose. God created you for a purpose. Find it. Eckhart Tolle, author of A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose, explains: “Your life has an inner purpose and an outer purpose. Inner purpose concerns being and is primary. Outer purpose concerns doing and it is secondary. Your inner purpose is to awaken. It is as simple as that. You share that purpose with every other person on the planet – because it is the purpose of humanity.
“Your inner purpose is an essential part of the purpose of the whole, the universe and its emerging intelligence. Your outer purpose can change over time. It varies greatly from person to person. Finding and living in alignment with the inner purpose is the foundation for fulfilling your outer purpose. It is the basis for true success. Without that alignment, you can still achieve certain things through effort, struggle, determination, and sheer hard work or cunning. But there is no joy in such endeavor, and it invariably ends in some form of suffering.”
Indeed, our life here on earth is precious and so little. Be yourself. Do what you want in life. Let your dreams be your source of inspiration and power. Don’t be intimidated. Don’t wait for tomorrow to do what you can do now. “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life,” Steve Jobs advised. “Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And the most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
Now, at this present stage of your life, do you know where you’re going to?