I shall not live in vain


By Duane Hewitt

If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.

Emily Dickenson (December 10, 1830 – May 15, 1886)

In her poem, I shall not live in vain, Dickenson’s words resonate as an important reminder to all of us regardless of age, creed, or color that we should strive to live with purpose and with value, even if that effort is seemingly small.

In the context of this article, purpose is defined as a positive goal and effort, a productive resolve to achieve something good. Having such purpose can mean much, whether that resolution is seemingly small or monumental in scope.

“It’s not enough to have lived. We should be determined to live for something.”
Winston Churchill

All life must have purpose. For the many species that occupy this planet, purpose means survival and propagation. But for we humans, living with purpose means so much more…

As conscious beings, we are given many opportunities to find and fulfill purpose. And it’s important that we do so. Living in vain is contrary to our nature. Living in vain means living a pointless, useless existence: Like a void – empty. And yet there are many opportunities presented to us throughout our lifetimes to make a difference… to another person, to the world, even for the health and betterment of ourselves. Such effort can be as significant as the metaphorical climbing of a mountain and shooting for the stars, or as simple as offering someone a kind word and a caring gesture. Often, such seemingly small gestures resonate outward with broader positive impact than we are aware.

“The mystery of human existence lies not in just staying alive, but in finding something to live for.”
Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Living with purpose and not living in vain can mean finding contentment with whom and what you are. But it can also mean not dwelling in the past and moving on. And so, by easing one life the aching, or cooling one pain, or helping one fainting robin unto his nest again, one shall not live in vain. It means making a difference to others and the world and it can be remarkably simple and easy to do.

“To live with purpose, begin with a single, simple effort. All else shall follow.”
Duane Hewitt

Copyright 2019 Duane Hewitt

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