I stopped by a local coffee shop recently to take a short break from the work I was doing for a client. As I sat in the coffee shop amongst the hum of energy from its patrons, a thought came to mind and I put on my oldest son's IPOD so that I wasn't aware of the conversations and sounds around me.
Prior to doing this, I was aware of the different types of conversations as I had overheard snatches of them before putting on my earphones.
Having isolated myself from my environment, I sat and observed what was going on around me.
As I did so, I became aware of and immersed in the tapestry around me, the poetry in motion that we call life, the beauty and orchestration that we often mistakenly view as chaos or random events.
By stripping out awareness of the dialog and focusing on hand gestures, laughter, frowns, smiles and other body language, I felt like I was witnessing an infinite number of plays being written at once - and what an outstanding collection it was.
Comedies, tragedies, romances and stories of overcoming challenge. New lives beginning and long life stories being passed on. Some business 101 classes were sprinkled in there. At some tables, volumes of information were being shared in silence. Hope and despair, anger and laughter - they all danced around and touched down in different interactions.
Meanwhile outside, people were going through the drive-thru, creating their own stories which were a mystery to this observer on the inside of the coffee shop.
Their story was influenced by the person at the drive-thru window, who had been influenced by the stories within the coffee shop.
What a complex play was being written, a play we are not aware of unless we slow down and observe its creation.
To expand on the experiment, I altered the music I was listening to. When I was listening to soft music, I became more aware of the gentle side of the interactions.
If I put on fast paced or loud music, I became more aware of heightened emotions and a sense of urgency or need for speed.
It's an interesting experiment that I highly recommend. Plant yourself where you can observe but suspend your ability to hear what is being said. Having done that, allow your other senses to insert yourself into the world around you.
As I noted what was going on around me, it reminded me of the phenomenal potential we have - the power to create, to share, to debate, to discuss, to disagree, to despise and to love - the potential to decide between a life of despair and a life of fulfillment.
What we have been blessed with in the way of gifts and potential is something that we may not be as grateful for as we could be.
Some of us may not be aware of the gifts we have.
Perhaps some of us don't believe that we are gifted at all.
The truth is that each of us possesses a fascinating, unique, powerful collection of gifts. How we choose to weave these gifts into the fabric of our life determines the legacy that we leave to others, the notion of "what will I be remembered for when I am gone".
Each of us brings this distinct collection to bear and plays a leading role in the story of our life and the lives of others. At other times, we are a supporting actor or a bit player in someone else's play. All roles are important!
Many of us are waiting for the perfect moment to bring these wonderful gifts to bear. Many people are waiting for a means of optimizing their gift potential, to bring the "biggest bang" to the table.
While waiting for the perfect moment, many people are denying themselves the sense of pleasure and fulfillment of making a difference now (even if smaller than they prefer). Some people, while waiting for the perfect moment, will wait until their end of days has come. In either case, to wait is to deny others of the opportunity to witness your gifts and to be impacted by them.
In the meantime, there are many people waiting for you. They want to share with you, to have an opportunity to collaborate with you, to learn from you, to make a difference in the lives of others and to help bring greater awareness of life purpose - yours, theirs and the lives of others.
I ask everyone I meet one simple question which I will ask of you today:
If I had unlimited time, energy and money, living in a world of no constraints, worries or fears, what would I be doing right now?
Don't answer it flippantly. Think about it. Observe the world around you and let that question percolate your mind, spirit and soul.
Some of you are living your purpose. For those who are not, allow an answer to come to the fore as you think through this question.
Once an answer floats to the surface, ask yourself - "who can help me incubate this and make it a reality?".
If something seizes your heart, embrace it as the purpose for which you are created and for which you have spent a lifetime developing gifts for.
Having done so, turn the page of life and begin writing the next act in the play that is your life.
Complete your story of inspiration, of overcoming challenge, of sharing, of giving unselfishly, of inspiring, of learning, of motivating and of loving.
The play has been incredible so far but you will discover it has no end. To those whom you leave a legacy to, they will open up the script and continue the story when you have moved on to what follows our life on earth.
I can hardly wait to see what the next act brings in your life.
The curtain is rising ...... and I hear applause as you step out onto the stage of life.
In service and servanthood.