Quotes, from wherever they may come from, tend to have an incredibly powerful effect on us as people. Of course, this depends on whether or not you agree with the quote, or more importantly if you know what the quote means!
Many times, people will look at a quote, take it at face value, and throw it away because they think they know what it means and don’t agree with it. But that’s like playing a hand of blackjack at the PlayCroco Casino, and never playing again if you lose.
You aren’t giving it a chance! You aren’t even trying to see if you understand the main meat and potatos of the issue. In the case of PlayCroco Casino, you aren’t seeing if you enjoy the game, just that you are upset at losing.
In the case of a quote, you are not really trying to take what the quote really means. Or perhaps, you aren’t trying to get meaning from the quote. You don’t necessarily have to take into account what the person quoted actually meant if you find your own meaning in their words.
I would like to start off by bringing quotes from a place most people will probably recognize. That, of course, is the books of Moses, the books of the Prophets, and the Writings. Together, they are probably one of the most famous yet least read sets of books on the planet.
I will also be bringing quotes from people who speak about those books, or other books that are associated with them, but I wanted to have clean categories so I will just call it “religion.”
Before you is one of the most powerful quotes about purpose I have ever heard, “God, before I was created, I was not worthwhile. Now, that I have been created, it is as if I was not created. I am but dust in my life, and all the more so will I be in my death.”
This comes from a prayer said by Jews on the day of the Hebrew new year. I personally find this passage to have an incredible depth and meaning for what the purpose of our lives are.
Now, many people get the meaning of this passage wrong. They think it is about saying how little and worthless you are compared to God. This is not true however. The true meaning of the quote has nothing to do with putting yourself down and being nothing.
Instead, it is about purpose. How every person has a specific purpose in their life that nobody else can fulifll exactly like how they could fulfill that purpose. Even if their purpose might be small, it is up to them to choose, they still have their own purpose.
“God, before I was created, I was not worthwhile.” This part of the quote is a sort of thanks. Before a person is created, they have no deeds to their name. They have done nothing to fulfill the purpose that they choose in life. They haven’t even found a purpose yet!
So, you are being thankful that you were created, and you will have the chance to fulfill a purpose and make the world a better place.
“Now that I have been created, it is as if I was not created.” This is supposed to be a wake up call for the person reading the prayer, or in this case the quote. If you disappeared from the world, would it be any different?
Are you doing anything to make the world a better place? Are you being nice and kind to the people around you? Do you care about others in a way that would make an impact if you were to not be there?
The wording of this is rather extreme, but that’s supposed to be the point. It’s meant to be a slap in the face to sort of say “Hey! You have the capacity to do so much! Are you using that gift as is proper?”
Finally, the passage ends by saying, “I am but dust in my life, and all the more so will I be in death.” This is supposed to remind us how we are flesh and blood. We have a temporary life on this planet we call Earth.
You have a limited time to “rock the boat” so to speak, and then you can no longer make a difference. When you are dead, you no longer can carry out good deeds in the world.
There are books of oral tradition that go alongside the classic books of Moses, the Prophets, and Writings. These are referred to as the Oral Bible, or in their ancient proper name Mishnah.
There is a passage from one section refered to as “Passages of the Fathers,” Which is about morals and ethics.
The quote states, “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? And when I am for myself, what am I?”
This is another quote that I feel has a really strong message when it comes to motivating us in our lives, yet helping us be good people while doing what are motivations bring us to wanting to do.
“If I am not for myself, who will be for me?” This part of the quote is saying that if you don’t take care of yourself, who will come to your rescue and take care of you for you? People have to be responsible for themselves.
It is also important to remember for those people who are always trying to help other people. They could end up spending so much time trying to be there for other people, that they are never there for themsevles.
And that is a second meaning of the passage. Don’t forget to take care of yourself! It is not just that you won’t have someone else to care for you, you shouldn’t forget that it is okay to take time for yourself if you need.
Yet, the second half of the quote also brings a sort of warning against taking this too far. “And when I am for myself, what am I?”
This is to say, don’t think that gives you a free pass to be selfish and take care of yourself. You need to be true to yourself, and realize that you don’t always need to be for yourself, and you should also have time to help others.
It is a sort of warning saying that if you are only for yourself, then what is the point of you? You are only living to serve yourself and aren’t doing anything to help the people around you also live better lives.
Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t saying you need cure cancer or anything, only that you should be nice to others, and extend generosity and charity to them. Even if all you have to give is a smile and a compliment.
Another way I like to interpret it is as saying, if you are only for yourself, then why should you think that someone will be there for you? You shouldn’t assume that someone will always be there to catch you when you fall, but if you aren’t for other people, then why should other people be there when you need someone to lean on?