Activitiy does indeed suggest a life filled with purpose. This morning I got up, I had my shower, I did my exercises, I had my breakfast, I went for my 40-minute walk, then I headed up to the church to run a service. I was busy. I ticked all the boxes!

For a while now I’ve been thinking about how much of my life is a series of ticking boxes. One box is replaced by another as the day’s tasks are completed and the next loom. I guess it’s like that for most people.

Is there more to life?

But lately I’ve been asking myself if life is more than just a series of ticking boxes. One set of boxes to be ticked; small tasks within wider tasks within even wider ones, all needing to be ticked.

I am also very aware that there is always the next issue which is pressing on my present doing. In other words, the next box is more important to my way of thinking than what I am doing right now.

Is there joy of living like that? For some people it’s fine. They think that life is to be lived by a series of rules; you either live within the rules or face the consequences.

That type of thinking can become somewhat fearful. What will the consequences be should a box not be ticked?

You’ll never get to heaven if…

We see this a lot in religion, where we are told to live our lives a certain way in order to be rewarded at the end.

I remember seeing an interview once with a Monk who lived in the harshest of monasteries. He was asked why he lived the way he did; he said it was so he would go to Heaven when he died.

I’m beginning to seriously question all of this.

This questioning started one day while I was walking. I was very pleased with myself because I had ticked all the boxes, only to realise there was another set waiting in line.

I realised the pleasure I was getting was in ticking the boxes – it didn’t matter whether I enjoyed the task or not, it was just stuff to be done.

I thought about my breakfast that morning and wondered if I had enjoyed it, only to realise I could hardly remember it.

Suddenly it become apparent how much of my life I had just ticked away. I was completely out of touch with my own body.

On a bigger picture, I had been wondering about the purpose of life. I thought about how we’re all thrown into this existence with no knowledge of how to deal with the life we’re given. We are just born into the world one day and leave it when we do.

So what is the purpose of this life?

To a box ticker, there is no answer. The box ticker is always looking to the future; there’s no enjoyment of the now.

For a long time, I have realised that part of the meaning in life is how we deal with what life throws at us. It throws good and bad stuff. I think the bad stuff can either break us, or break us open.

Those who are broken end up being mean and nasty and small-minded. Those who are broken open grow in their self and their relationships.

Enjoying each moment

At this moment I’m beginning to discover that the meaning of one’s life is found in enjoying each moment; moment to moment.

I’ve found that the magic of enjoying the wonder of now allows us to open ourselves up to others in loving compassion. In a magic way, when we stare into the eyes of another person we disappear into a collective now. It’s momentary and instant, yet eternal.

My thinking is that our purpose in this life is to enjoy, with gratitude, the moment we are in.

As we do that, we reach out in loving compassion to our brothers and sisters who are having a hard time. In that way, when life throws the hard things at us it’s the love and compassion of others that helps us through.

About the Author: Bill Crews

Rev. Bill Crews AM is a much-loved Australian who's given over 3 million meals to the hungry and taught thousands of underprivileged kids to read. He's been recognised by The Rotary Foundation and Ernst & Young. He is on the National Trust’s list of 100 “National Living Treasures”.