Be passionate about your purpose


What advice would you give your grandchild or great-grandchild? I have been pondering this question for many weeks, and as I have mulled over answers, I turned back to my grandparents and great-grands and wondered what they would have advised me.


My mother's parents were born in 1884 in Providence Rhode Island and 1889 in New York City. My father's parents were both born in New York City in 1896 and 1900, respectively. I have a photo of my father's grandfather, John Dunphy, born in Ireland in 1845, wearing a bowler hat, suit jacket and riding pants, sitting astride his horse on the Harlem Speedway, a dirt road at the time. What advice would John Dunphy give to me, his great-granddaughter, I wonder?


Another great-grandfather, Daniel Connelly, was born in Tennessee in 1859 and made his way to Rhode Island where he was a barber when my grandfather, his first child, was born. And then there's Cornelius O'Leary, born in Ireland in 1839, who was a medical doctor and beloved professor of Latin, Greek and philosophy at Manhattan College. What would the barber or the professor have advised me?

Two of my great-grandmothers were the third wife to their husbands. Life was hard in the mid 1800s and women bore their share of the load in a very different way than the men and in a world so different from the one I grew up in. What would they say to me? My great-grandparents were born before the Civil War. My grandparents were born at the end of the 19th century. I was born smack dab in the middle of the 20th century and I'm lucky enough to have two grandchildren of my own born in the early 21st century. Should they live ahead to become parents, they could have children in the 2030s or 2040s who could grow to be adults contemplating this question at the cusp of the 22nd century.

What a timeline. What a question. How could you answer it?

Here's where I've landed. So far.

  • Ask yourself what are you for? Why are you you? What is your purpose? Do it annually. Let it change but always be thinking about it because it will settle later in life if you remain vigilant.

  • Be passionate about your purpose. Stand by it. Own it. Let it guide you.

  • Be humble and be a helper. Always find a way to help. Help yourself. Help others. Be of service.

I think this might be a good start -- No matter how old you are, no matter what century you live in.

I will keep thinking about it.