A New Year’s commonsense guide to a life of purpose

By Reade Brower | Jan 07, 2017

“Every individual has a unique potential that defines a destiny.” — HYDE School, Bath


A new year gives us the opportunity to assess where we are and where we want to go. Finding a path to a life of purpose seems like the commonsense place to start. Emulating others we admire seems like a good next step.

A life of purpose is hard to define. My experience tells me that though difficult to put into words, it is something that, when you see it, you know it.

It might be defined by its organic presence. Or, perhaps by its intrinsic value. To fit the common sense definition, it must be passion-based and rooted in your core; perhaps something unique to you that brings out your best. As the quotation above states, all of us are born with our own unique potential that will determine our destiny, if we find it and let it out. The purpose part has to be something bigger than yourself.

The first time I saw unique potential was when I heard about my friend who is a nurse; I saw that she was going to help an orphanage in Africa with her best friend. Together, they would raise money and help set up a medical clinic. My friend was using her nursing talents for the benefit of others while fulfilling part of her purpose by giving these children a hand up; something that transcended her nursing job and making a living.

She was taking her innate talent and repurposing it for a greater good. For me, that defined this concept, up to now, a nebulous term named “unique potential.”

That experience happened about 10 years ago and I followed the nurses on their journey, curious to experience a life of purpose for myself, while seeing what “unique potential” looked like; since I am a person who needs to touch it to learn it, this was my keyhole into the start of a life based on purpose.

How could I use my unique gifts to make the world a better place, creating a life that was rooted in purpose? That was the question that is still a decade in the making.

Along the way, I have learned that you can’t glom onto someone else’s passion. You must find your own if you want to surf the big wave. Until then, drafting off others is a way to learn. Take notes, and do the little things; the big things will follow.

For 2017, a friend and I spoke about doing things for others. We both vowed to do more in 2017, each day looking for an opportunity to do something nice while dodging recognition where possible. The true self comes out when nobody is looking. We agreed to keep ourselves accountable through regular email journaling to each other. It’s a start.


Kudos to the Camden Police Department for stepping up. In addition to defending Camden residents, it is offering to call citizens to check on them daily between 8 and 10 in the morning. If there is no answer, the department will dispatch an officer to check on them. A small gesture with a big message: Our seniors matter and our police are here to serve us. To be part of the “Camden Police Good Morning Camden Program” call 236-7953.

The Camden Police also have a program called “Sand for Seniors”; once signed up, the police will deliver a bucket of sand for your walkway. When the sand is gone, another call will get it refilled.


Here are a couple of quick reality checks to begin the year on.

First, Donald Trump's relationship with Russia is concerning. Trumpeting free speech with callouts to the media’s insignificance does not move us in the right direction. Verified news and opinions will be important in 2017 if we are to stay away from the propaganda swing that many fear.

Second, columns last week by Sen. Dave Miramant in the Free Press and Tom Seymour in the Belfast Republican Journal got me thinking.

Miramant’s continued insistence that the minimum wage rise to the maximum levels for tipped workers flies in the face of common sense. What we voted for is that all workers should be paid a livable wage so that the working poor will not need government assistance to survive. When he refers to the “measly” $3.75 per hour tip wage, he purposely fails to tell readers what a typical Knox County tipped worker makes, including tips.

It is the back-end dishwashers and food-prep people who are making “measly” money, not the tipped workers. These tipped workers of Knox County are emphatically telling Dave that they don’t need it; that seems to fly in the face of what he wants. We need our elected officials to listen to their constituents, rather than trying to save us from ourselves.

Miramant also fails to mention that tipped workers have been, and will continue to be, protected by the law that promises tipped workers that their employer is responsible to make up any difference in their total pay if it doesn’t meet current minimum wage.

Seymour’s column asks how far “liberal agitators will go to disrupt” the inauguration and how “distasteful” liberal antics are as he compares his “soft-spoken conservative” friends with “screaming liberals.” He then calls liberals “sinister” for plotting, even before inauguration, Trump’s impeachment. He then brings up all the “fake” news from Trump protesters and creates more fences and conspiracy theories.

What he fails to bring up is that conservatives have spent eight years standing in the way of progress; telling Obama and the Democrats “no” on everything, with levels of disruption and obstructionism never before seen in government.

This is true hypocrisy with no hint of what we really need: a bipartisan solution to health care, foreign relations, and our Supreme Court nominees.

We must demand more in 2017 from all our elected (yes, elected by us to serve us all) officials.


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