On the first morning of the Colorado Health Symposium, I sat with my laptop, iPad, and cell phone in front of me. As one of five social media fellows in attendance, I was prepared to spend the next three days feverishly tweeting. Every year, the Colorado Health Symposium brings together health care leaders to tackle the challenge of making Colorado the healthiest state in the nation, and this year’s focus was the importance of meaningful connections. The three-day event covered innovative technologies, system alignment, community activation, and connecting our values to our actions.
The first two days were great, but it was the final presentation on the third day that I really connected with. Dr. Victor Strecher, Professor and Director for Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship at the University of Michigan, spoke about finding purpose—and left not a dry eye among us. After the death of his daughter he felt lost, and set out to find his purpose in life. I left feeling inspired to think what we really mean when we talk about a life purpose, and what my purpose might be.
I got to examine these ideas further when I experienced the Care Equity Project’s interactive presentation, the week after I returned from Keystone. The program works to raise awareness of and develop skills for providing care to people living in poverty. In the introductory play, Loose Change, we met characters facing a variety of financial obstacles to good health, and saw how it affects their lives in significant ways. They faced overwhelming odds just in surviving, and it gave me new perspective on living with purpose.
Typically, the only time we talk about a life purpose is when it’s something elevated—something that adds great value to the world: caring for the sick, saving the environment, or ending hunger, for example. For many Coloradans, though, those types of life purposes can feel like a luxury, given their time and resources are often wrapped up in daily survival. A life purpose doesn’t have to change the world, though—it only has to change your life. Working two jobs and pinching pennies to provide a healthy, stable childhood for your kids, like my mother did, is an important life purpose. Getting your diabetes under control so you’ll be around to see your grandchildren’s birthdays is an important life purpose, too. The key is that we all have to see our purpose as a purpose, so we can strive for it.
Both health care and finding your life’s purpose can feel like luxuries afforded only to some, but it shouldn’t. The Colorado Health Symposium was a great reminder of how many people are working to make good health accessible to all, and the Care Equity Project was a powerful demonstration of which Coloradans need that help the most. Now, our purpose is to make their life purpose a little more possible.