My eyes are bloodshot, my words are starting to jumble and my body is completely exhausted. They say that finding your life purpose will bring fulfillment. That anything in life worth doing takes time and effort. Well, let’s just say that finding your purpose is one thing, but fulfilling it is a whole ‘nother story.
Rewind to April 14, 2017; I had just completed an awesome 6 week video editing course at MEWShop , packed my bags and prepared to head home for Easter to see my family. I made my way into the underground dungeon, that some also refer to as Penn Station, where I would catch a train to Newark airport. In the main waiting area there were thousands of irritated travelers – delayed due to a train malfunction in the tunnel. Penn Station was A COMPLETE MESS.
I squeezed in-between the masses and stared blankly at the information screen when my worst nightmare became reality. Behind me I heard piercing screams and people yelling “THERE’S A SHOOTER, GET DOWN, EVERYBODY F***ING RUN”. As a sea of panic unfolded I felt like a bird trapped in a cage and people began running towards any possible means of escape. Some hit the floor and piled on top of one another while others fell over bags and people. Blind uncontrollable fear filled the station and my mind
blacked out as my adrenaline took over. I dropped my bags and began jumping over people as others were falling around me. It’s really surreal to experience your body respond to extreme stress. The last thing I remember thinking was ‘I’m not going to die laying down’ then practically dove head first down the nearest escalator.
When I got to the lower platform there was a young man around my age named Michael. He was a complete stranger to me; but held me in his arms as I shook uncontrollably. I’m a strong believer that people come into your life for a reason, and had he not been there, I would have run deep into the train tunnel as far as my legs could carry me. If only I could have run like this during my high school cross country meets? He too had escaped the madness upstairs and lost his shoe running down the ‘up’ escalator. After asking me if I was ‘ok’, we noticed his foot had been badly lacerated, was severely bleeding and he told me he wasn’t feeling well.
We were the only two on that platform. I wasn’t going back upstairs. Someone wake me from this nightmare.
At the time the only thing I could think to do was tie my shoelace around his lower leg (#ChucksLife) and try to find help. Two train wells away was a train full of people and I was screaming to get the attendant’s attention – he couldn’t hear me. Extreme circumstances often produce extreme reactions, and it was then that I jumped into the train well that was as deep as I am tall. After jumping the third rail (yes, reckless, I know) and literally hopping onto the next platform, the people on the train had to have thought I was crazy. I began desperately explaining the situation as no one was aware of the commotion upstairs, and that I needed help. Then the train attendant looked me straight in the face and said “That’s not my job”.
I completely lost it.
True helplessness in its raw form is one of the worst feelings I’ve ever experienced. I began screaming for doctors, nurses anyone that could help and no one came until eventually 911 was able to respond. Thankfully this was a scare. No one was shot. Mass hysteria producing more mass hysteria. These are the times we live in.
I remember walking up from the lower platform and calling my mom, hyper-ventilating as she asked if I was ok. I remember picking up my bags that were left behind untouched with some of my most valuable belongings; cameras, hard drives, cash, my passport. I remember heels and pieces of clothing scattered across the ground with an eerie silence that filled the main room. But I remember, more than anything, walking above ground, out of what felt like the burning fires of hell, just happy to be alive.
Our life experiences shape our world but our attitudes shape our lives.
My experience at Penn Station showed me in the most raw and real way, that in the blink of an eye it can all be over. Had I accomplished what I was created to do? What was the impact I’ve left behind? Could I have used my time better? Did I tell the people I love, that I love them? Could I have done more? These thoughts unceasingly fuel my mind.
This is why I no longer sleep.
Each day we choose how we spend our time. Do we challenge ourselves by finding our purpose and building the guts to fulfill it? Or do we spend our days simply existing and aligning to the
empty ‘comforts’ that our culture promotes. We promise ourselves that ‘someday’ we will do ‘this’ and ‘someday’ we will do ‘that’. One day that ‘someday‘ will no longer exist. Nothing is more valuable than this present moment, and once it’s gone, you will never be able to get it back. Finding your purpose is the easy part but chasing the dream will take time and commitment. The only way to get someplace is to start somewhere. Your passion will fuel you, your hard work will move you and your patience will see you through.
Someday, death will come and take my exhausted, worked, lifeless body. When it does, I hope to have spent my last breath living a life of purpose and inspiring a generation to
Dream while awake – sleep when dead.
– Sophia Elacqua