The purpose of connection

by Nov 2, 2023Uncategorized0 comments

Do you wake up feeling excited about the day ahead? Or the opposite?

A dear friend turned 70 earlier this year. We go back a long way, to when I was studying Traditional Chinese Medicine. She loves to tell people that she was the friend who bravely agreed to be my human guinea pig when I was learning to insert acupuncture needles. And our friendship survived!

She rang me the other day about her current fatigue and lack of oomph. So we did some exploring – even though I don’t practise TCM any more, I asked her the usual questions about sleep and appetite and so on, looking for some physical clues. 

We also ‘diagnosed’ that last year a few big things had happened – she’d finally finished a big project (building her house), her role caring for a close friend had ended, and though she’s fit and active in her community, turning 70 had got her thinking about how she wants to spend the next 20 odd years (given the women in her family all lived into their 90’s).

And, physical stuff aside – finding a new purpose and meaning seemed to be the nub of it.

This morning, listening to the magpies start up their call and response from tree to tree, I thought about how finding our purpose or what makes our lives feel meaningful, is uniquely human.

I was so lucky to find meaning in Chinese Medicine and do work I loved for over 30 years. But lives can change, or we change, and then we need to find a new purpose or way of making our lives meaningful. 

The magpies know to start warbling and greet the day as soon as they see the first glimmer of light.

Clancy no doubt knows that the purpose in his furry life is going for walks and letting other dogs know he’s been there by lifting his leg along the way. Or when he ‘warns’ me about people walking past the house. Or gives me a loving lick. Or takes as his due the love he gets for just being himself.

We’re not like the magpies who know how to sing and when to sing and just do it. The natural world just does what it does, no need to think about it.

Humans are different – we grapple with what we want to do with our lives, what makes us fulfilled or satisfied or joyful or energised. It’s both a blessing and a curse.

Sometimes, we think our purpose needs to be a grand one, but I don’t think it has to be big to be meaningful. Simply being present and courteous to the person in the veggie shop, or eye contact and a smile to the stranger at the tram stop are small acts that create connection. 

Connection – I believe that’s our purpose. Like the magpies warbling back to each other. And dogs leaving each other messages on trees and fences. 

In a world where there’s so much disconnection and conflict, and so much we can’t fix, a kind heart is a small remedy that ripples out and subtly heals us.

If you want to share with me what you feel your purpose is or how you find meaning in your life, I’d love to hear from you 💜. You can email me at

Liz O'Brien

Liz O'Brien


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