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Fulfilling your life’s purpose may be hazardous to your health 

Fulfilling your life's purpose may be hazardous to your healthIt was a gorgeous Saturday morning. I was lying on the living-room couch in my underwear, watching TV and drinking a beer.

My girlfriend, Ashley, walked into the room and stopped dead in her tracks.

“Hey,” she said, motioning to me. “What’s this all about?”

I let out a three-second belch. “What’s what all about?”

Her fingers clenched into tight fists, which was an ominous sign. “Is this how you’re going to spend your entire weekend? In your underwear?”

I shrugged. “Would you rather I lie here naked?”

“This has got to stop,” Ashley said. “You need some direction in life. You spend all your time either lounging around or working on a blog that no one reads. You need to figure out your life’s purpose and then make goals to fulfill it.”

“Oh, no,” I said. “Absolutely not.”

Ashley put her hands on her hips, which was an even more ominous sign. “And why not?”

Luckily, I had an answer prepared. (It was one that I had been concocting for quite a while.)

“Because,” I said, “I want to live a long, full life, and everyone I know who fulfills their life’s purpose too soon ends up dying young.”

Ashley’s lip curled, exposing her lower teeth — which was perhaps the most ominous sign yet. “What are you talking about?”

“Take Jim Henson, for instance,” I said. “Look at how he changed the world. He introduced puppetry to a large audience, he helped revolutionize children’s television programming, and he created a lasting legacy with all his Muppet characters. And then, after accomplishing so much, he ended up passing away in his early fifties from pneumonia, of all things.”

“I don’t get it,” Ashley said. “Are you seriously suggesting that he passed away because he fulfilled his life’s purpose?”

“Not just him” I said. “Remember Bob Ross, the painter? The guy with the frizzy Art Garfunkel hair who had the Joy of Painting show on PBS? He passed away in his early fifties, too — and this after fulfilling his life’s purpose of making painting accessible to a wide audience.”

Ashley crossed her arms, which wasn’t just an ominous sign — it was a grave sign. “Don’t you think you’re just cherry-picking successful people who happened to die young?”

“I could name more,” I said. “Jimi Hendrix, John Candy, Martin Luther King, Jr., Joan of Arc, Mozart. All of them died young after accomplishing great things and fulfilling their life’s purpose.” 

“Wow,” Ashley said. “I can’t believe the lengths you’ll go to conform to mediocrity.”

“Wrong. I appreciate the gift of life. There’s a difference.”

Ashley sucked in a long, deep breath and let it out slowly. Her eyes fluttered, and a throbbing vein appeared on her forehead. 

Slowly, wordlessly, she started walking toward me.

I swallowed, pressing myself against the back of the couch. “Hon? What are you doing?”

As she gazed down on me, her eyes narrowed to slits, and her eyebrows curled into a menacing “V.”

“You’re about to die young,” she said. 

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