It is 1969, a gloomy winter afternoon in San Francisco. A Triumph sports car sits in the middle of Downey Street in the Haight- Ashbury District. No one would’ve thought twice about this, except today. A young, extremely pregnant woman waddles across the street and screaming, “He’s coming!”
The entire neighborhood watches as she attempts to squeeze into the tiny vehicle all the while shouting obscenities interspersed with cries of pain.
“Don’t worry! We’ll be at the hospital soon!” Her husband rushes out of the house and across the street.
The woman manages to lie horizontally in the backseat with her feet sticking out of the window. As soon as her husband reaches the car, she cries out one last blood-curdling scream ~ I appear on my first stage.
Fellow toastees, Mark Twain said, “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you discover why.” Do you know your purpose? Aligning your life with your desires and values not only leads to your happiness and the happiness of those around you, but also increases your lifespan. But how do you find your purpose?
The first step is mindfulness. So many people forget that finding their purpose is not solely intellectual. The mind-body connection is essential to finding purpose. You can meditate, practice yoga or tai-chi, whatever works for you. Finding purpose is a holistic process.
At age 5, after my mom took me to her rehearsal of The Music Man, I insisted, “From now on, you can call me Mike the Entertainer.” “ OK, Mike the entertainer,” asked my mom. “what Kind of entertainer are you?” “I dunno.”
I attended a high school for performing arts where I met Maggie. She introduced me to the comedy open mic. My first open mic was at The Other Cafe, right around the corner from the street where I was born.
I arrive at the cafe alone. I don’t want my friends to see me in case I fail. I enter the dimly lit cafe, introduce myself, and timidly sit in the back. I practice my jokes over and over in my head as I wait my turn. The emcee tells me I’m next and I say to myself, “Heeerrre we go!”
The comic onstage finishes. I feel as if on a roller coaster approaching the first peak. As I approach the stage as the emcee announces me, “Malachy Jism!” I suddenly forget all my jokes. Have you ever experienced a time when something doesn’t go as planned and completely distracts you? “Malachy Jism?! Do I look like an Amish porn star?!? My name is MALCOLM GRISSOM!”
After the show, I was so ashamed. I didn’t tell any of my jokes. I ranted about how to pronounce my name. I failed!
Years later In college, I worked as a security guard. At a private party, a girl approached. “Aren’t you that guy that performed comedy at The Other Cafe? Yeah, I thought so. You’re funny.” That was the second most important day of my life. I learned my purpose was to be a stand up comic. At least, that’s what I thought.
The second step is to try new things constantly. ask questions: why do I like doing this? Is this something I can do differently? Is doing this something I want people to remember me for? Then, the key to this step is stopping. Take a break from the activity for a year. Do you miss it?
After I mastered stand-up comedy, I realized I wanted more than to get on stage and make people laugh. But when I stopped, I missed the attention and making others happy.
The third step is to write your eulogy. What do you want people to say about you? What do you want to be remembered for? You should repeat this step throughout your life. I do this once a year.
Now, after years of performing stand-up comedy and telling stories and advising people on how to build their careers, I’ve found my purpose. My purpose is to entertain and also inspire, empower, and motivate.
Do you know your purpose? Are you sure? While sharing my humor has always been part of my purpose, purpose is not static. It evolves. So, whether you know your purpose or not try the steps I’ve mentioned. Your legacy, your family, and your friends will thank you.