I once read a story that got me thinking. (Actually all stories get me thinking, but that one really got me thinking, I even decided to blog about it...)

So here it is:

A man was sentenced to spend twenty years in prison. While incarcerated, his daily assignment was to turn a massive wheel, attached to the outside wall of the jail, all day long. It was a pretty depressing job, so the man kept himself uplifted by imagining what was on the other side on the wall. Some days he thought about all the people that were fed by the flour that the mill he was powering was probably producing, some day he fantasized about all the light bulbs for which he was providing electricity. He yearned for the day he would be set free, so he could go around the wall and find out what exact service he was providing to the world. That thought gave purpose to his life, gave him the strength to continue even when his body was exhausted.

Unfortunately, after serving twenty years he found out that behind the wall there was no factory, no mill, no power plant; actually the wheel was attached to... nothing. The realization that for all these years there was no purpose to his labor was too much for him to bear. Much harder than the actual physical work was the emotional strain of living a purposeless life for so long.

Most physical things that we do cannot be described as really purposeful. I eat because I have to survive. I work because I need money to buy food. According to Kabbalah, these fall in the category of our Outer Will - things that we do but which are not our final goal. Our Inner Will is being utilized when we have no further purpose to an action. I pray because praying is the right thing to do. I am kind because it's the right thing to do. A truly purposeful action is one that comes from our Inner Will.

A purposeful action is also something that makes a difference in the world. Eating and sleeping have been done, by humans and animals alike, for millenniums. When we do something unique, we have the Gift of Purpose. A spiritual program is one that is unique to our personality, being spiritual is being purposeful.

So, by following our spiritual path of the Twelve Steps we are building a factory on the other side of the wall. By turning over our will and our lives to the care of G‑d, we have the Gift of Purpose.