Written By Frances Pappalardo
I remember an argument I once had with my dad. He used to wait at the dining room table every night for me to come home around 11:00pm. As soon as I walked through the door, he was prepared to sit and listen to me recap my day, while serving me my freshly microwaved plate of family dinner leftovers. The first half of my days were of course spent at school, while the second half was usually divided up between the dance studio and some sort of club or activity I was volunteering in. This particular night, I remember arriving home with great frustration. I was feeling unabashedly overwhelmed, expressing to my dad that I had too much on my plate. (…and I’m not talking about the mac and cheese on my literal plate, but rather the amount of activities on my figurative plate.) In true All American, white-girl, suburbia form, I proceeded to lay down the track of my new remix including “something’s gotta give”, “you don’t understand”, and “Whatever, Dad!” However, although I made it seem that I was complaining about everything, my secret mission was to give up the service-based activities. My goal in life was to become a professional dancer, and I couldn’t see how those activities were serving my 16 year old cause.
After patiently listening to my colorful tantrum, he calmly replied, “Ok Frances, you don’t have to do all of these things. Remember, these are your choices that you signed up for. So which activity would you like to trim down or let go?”
Easy. “I am done volunteering!” I said, hoping that was the end of the album…
But it was in that moment that my dad let the beat drop… the one that completely slayed my newly cut track and would ultimately transform the entire theme song of my life.
He said, “You can always do what you want, but the minute you think contribution isn’t important, is the minute you’ve lost touch with your purpose in life.”
(cue mic drop)
Now, I know what you’re thinking… “there’s that purpose word again!” You’ve heard it SO many times. You’ve defined it 500 different ways. You’ve meditated on it, while drinking your favorite yogi tea. You’ve read a few books on it that have now been reduced to your bathroom decor, carefully displayed on top of the romance novel that you find much more enjoyable. In fact, if you think about it too long, it makes you sick. Simply put, there is a part of you that wants to serve and make a difference, but you just can’t seem to figure it out. If this speaks to you as you find yourself just existing, feeling numb and desperate for a deeper connection, but aren’t sure how to get it…you need a cure.
That cure is CONTRIBUTION.
While I would love to say that I just “got it” right away, it’s taken years and life-events for me to understand the true meaning of what my father meant. It wasn’t until after he passed away that those words really struck the right chord and I understood what he was saying: no matter what you do in life, it is in acts of service to others that you will find true purpose. What follows is a series of a few key practices that helped shift the theme song of my life from the monotonous tone that it once was, to one that is now inclusive, meaningful and full of depth. As we dive in, our goal together will be to calm your anxieties, bring focus to your mind and cultivate what you’ll perceive as a more meaningful existence.
Until then… I will leave you with a message from the King.
“Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” ~MLK