Last week (see bottom, below line), I ended by saying I’d share more about how I plan to “share my purpose” in the upcoming diatribe. Well, before I can speak on that, I wanted to take a moment and thank you, friends I value deeply, for reading my idiosyncratic, introspective, often-times verbose, and other times self-aggrandizing blogs each week.
I know you never asked for this, but (trust me) your comments and our conversations over the last several months have indicated my words are not all for naught. I hope I am not mistaken in this assumption. Regardless, I am sincerely grateful for your time and feedback as I uncover and address the innermost thoughts and complexities of (my) life.
Diatribes by Joah isn’t intended, primarily, to share my life story or my life’s accomplishments or even my life’s concerns. Moreso, I take a few moments each week to give you, my friends and readers, an inside look at why I am the way I am. What makes me tick. What makes me stop and think. And what makes me someone I hope you find worthwhile.
For you, I need no verification or validation of your friendship or worthiness to me. If you receive my blog, it’s not because I think I’m cool and my life is better or more interesting than yours (it probably isn’t). Instead, it’s just my way of entrusting both close and closer friends with my world. You can come in if you choose or you can just be a bystander.
This openness, this public unveiling of my(true)self, albeit through words, is nothing new for me. I’ve always been the type to answer any question tossed in my direction. Just as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., shared his experience from a Birmingham jail room in his legendary book Why We Can’t Wait, I believe - in some way - my blogs give me the opportunity to lessen the burden of internalized consternation. No, I’m not comparing myself to the great Reverend.
Nonetheless, my blogs are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to sharing my “purpose”. This purpose I speak of is not to take over the world or to become the next Ben Franklin or MLK or even to make a billion dollars. My purpose, which I’ve believed since I was 10 or 11 years old if not younger, is to elevate the dialogue about and pursuit of destiny.
What does it mean to “elevate the dialogue about and pursuit of destiny”, you ask? Simple. I mean I hope to one day inspire others to put concentrated time and effort into determining and fulfilling their life’s destiny. Too often, I believe, we are focused on happiness (“I love my life!”) or satisfaction (“I have no complaints.”) or success (“I made it!”) or accomplishment (“I did it.”). I try, though I do not always succeed, to focus on destiny and the pursuit thereof.
Destiny, unlike purpose, isn’t about what you have been placed on earth to do. Instead, destiny is about what you have been placed on earth to try. For example, it may have been MLK’s purpose to lead the Civil Rights Movement, but perhaps more importantly it was his destiny to show the nation - along with the Kennedy brothers and Malcolm X - during a revolutionary period ended only by an assassin’s bullet. He tried to execute the destiny he believed America to have.
Trying, similar to thinking about destiny, isn’t something we spend enough time doing. Instead, we’re all about results. Do this, do that. Make this happen, then that and hopefully this will come of it. We’re told, from childhood, in a very subtle and silent manner that trying isn’t good enough. We must do what we set out to do. That said, many if not most of us choose to set out to do less (be a doctor) than more (cure cancer). We measure our lives through a collection of job titles, financial portfolios and post-secondary degrees instead of lives touched, people inspired and impact measured.
I believe the result of this avoidance, rather ignorance, of destiny leaves a nation built on people trying to do what’s been done before, what’s easier, what’s more feasible and what’s expected. Not since that tragic day in 1968 have we had a true leader who wanted us to try something we’d never tried before. Simple choice: try for greatness or settle for OK. We never spend the time to consider whether our lives are on a path to great or OK status.
So these blogs, these “diatribes” along with the books I’m currently writing - Notes from the Class You Missed (a college guidebook), Life after College (a post-college guidebook) and The Untold and Overlooked (an inspirational collection of African-American success stories) - are just some of the many ways I hope to serve both my purpose and pursue my destiny, simultaneously. If you take even one more hour of your entire life to consider your “destiny” because of my words I feel I have stepped just a bit closer to doing what I think needs to be done to get this country back to that same sense of greatness, albeit including occasional periods of chaos and uncertainty, our parent’s experienced decades ago.
I like to think I’m living a life founded in the quest for greatness, but I’m only as good as the people around me. Hopefully, I can live to see the day (the same day MLK and JFK dreamed of) when all of my friends and neighbors are talking about destiny and purpose the same way we all talk about getting new jobs and graduate degrees. Here’s hoping 2007 is a favorable year! God bless you.