This 6 minute video by Prince Ea, who is an American spoken word artist, poet, rapper and filmmaker makes some challenging points about what it means to live life with purpose and passion.
His entertaining style and vivid imagery challenge us to think deeply about living life with a higher and greater perspective than what we may necessarily see in front of us or how we feel about ourselves. He emphasises the dangers of living with regret for not having been more appropriately ambitious, or without courage and living instead with self-doubt.
My take on this? We are certainly challenged not to live in the world of fear and self-doubt, but to pursue a dream of meaning and purpose that truly grips us. It makes for great poetry and I can appreciate the exhortation to live with passion and courage. Or as he says in the video, "Do you have the courage to grab the dream that picked you?" For me it is a reminder of understanding and living into "the good works which God prepared in advance for us to do" (Ephesians 2:10b). The first part of that verse also reminds us that we are "God's workmanship created in Christ Jesus.." In other words all of our life experiences are going in a certain direction, equipping us for unique tasks and opportunities.
It was the writer Thoreau who wrote about how in contrast many people "live lives of quiet desperation and die with their song still inside of them". Perhaps this is the chronic long term view of regret where as we get older many of us give up on our dreams and ambitions, leading to a life of resignation and cynicism about almost everything.
There would appear to be a universal deep longing in our hearts for something of greater meaning and purpose. Our lives can feel ordinary and mediocre, but that is not what we are called to. The danger I think comes from confusing task with identity. What we are doing may not necessarily appear to be particularly glamorous or high profile, but that does not necessarily take away its intrinsic worth. There is One who sees and knows all.
We all want to have something meaningful to do with our lives that on many levels can seem rather mundane and ordinary. Here is how Martin Luther King put it:
“If it falls to your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, sweep streets like Beethoven composed music ... Sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets so well that all the host of heaven and earth will have to pause and say: Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well."
Here is the ending of Prince Ea's rap to us:
Struggle and criticisms are prerequisites for greatness. That is the law of this universe and no one escapes it. Because pain is life but you can choose what type: Either the pain on the road to success. Or the pain of being haunted with regret.......We have been given a gift that we call life. So don't blow it. You are not defined by your past. Instead you are born anew each moment. So own it. Now.
Sometimes you've got to leap and grow your wings on the way down. You better get the shot off before the clock runs out. Cuz ain't no over time in life. No do-over. ....But if you don't use your gift then you sell, not only yourself, but the whole world... short.....
So grab the microphone and be brave. Sing your heart out on life's stage. You cannot go back and make a brand new beginning. But you can start now and make a brand new ending.
What are your reflections on this intense human search for meaning? How does the video challenge you in your own life?