By Jimmy Warden
Over my twenty-seven years and ten and a half months on Earth, I’d like to think that I’ve learned a lot of lessons in my life. One of the most important lessons that I’ve learned is that purpose and meaning bring energy and motivation into your life. When we find our lives to be fulfilling, we are often taking part in activities that serve a purpose bigger than ourselves and are meaningful in various ways. This brings a type of energy and motivation that allows us to move forward in life, even when life gets hard. Someone that lives with purpose and meaning is often referred to being someone who has a lot of “positive energy”. These are the type of people we want to be around, and we rarely ever don’t want to be in their presence.
There was a man that I used to work who brought a tremendous amount of positive energy with him wherever he went. This man’s name was Jozef Safko, and he lived a life with a tremendous amount of purpose and meaning; so much that he positively influenced many of the people he came into contact with.
Jozef had a tremendous amount of positive energy. He brought so much love and passion to everything that he did because it all meant so much to him. He was always living to fulfill his life’s purpose. As a result, his energy seemed endless, and it was always positive.
His purpose was to be the best version of himself for the people that he served. Whether it was his family, the children he taught in the classroom, the children he coached on the gymnastics floor, or anyone in between; Jozef gave everyone his best. He always tried to be better each day than he was the day before because he wanted to give the people he loved the best version of himself. This is what drove his life’s work.
There were many things that were meaningful to him, which is why he had so much purpose in life. His family meant the world to him. He tried everyday to be the best husband, father, brother, and son. He truly loved his wife and kids and would do anything for them. He did the same for his siblings and parents. He always spoke fondly of them. For Jozef, his family meant the world. He was always there for them. This gave him meaning and purpose much greater than himself, so he was constantly able to answer the calls of his family to fulfill his part with flying colors.
The same could be said about Jozef as a teacher. Another part of life that gave Jozef tremendous amounts of meaning and purpose. He was a teacher in the classroom and on the gymnastics floor. Jozef had such love and passion for teaching, especially when it came to gymnastics. His warm smile and words of encouragement showed all of his students that he believed in them. Jozef helped all of his students believe in themselves. He helped them build their confidence and independence. A tremendous superpower to teach anyone, regardless of their age. He even helped me with that.
Jozef and I shared a classroom for a year with another teacher, Linda Beede. We had our hands full in a classroom of twenty-one second grade students. Our ability to work together as a team was what made it a positive experience for everyone in that classroom, from teachers to students. Jozef was a massive part of that. Each day, he provided Linda and me with encouragement and reassurance that we were doing a great job, whenever Linda and I would get down on ourselves. There were so many days that we felt defeated, but there was Jozef, with his bright and warm smile to help keep us going, along with a little bit of advice for how we could make things work. For that, Linda and I will forever be grateful. He was the same way with the students. They always looked to him for reassurance and to make him proud. He would always reply back with his smile and a high-five when they were on the right track, and he would always sit down for as long as it took for a child to feel sure of themselves.
He was also such a great mentor to me. He was a person who told me that I was doing great work, whenever I was doubting my teaching abilities. He helped me understand that I should live my life doing what I love to do. He taught me that I could be whoever I wanted to be and do whatever I wanted to do, as long as I wasn’t afraid of a little hard work. He taught me to be proud of myself, and be confident in my own skin. He saw things in me, when I couldn’t see them in myself. For this, I’ll forever be grateful.
Everything that I have mentioned gave Jozef’s life so much purpose and meaning, which is why he had such a tremendous impact on the people he met. He was a people person. He was wise, genuine, positive, kind, hard-working, empathetic, compassionate, and loving, to say the least. That’s just who he was and who he’ll forever be; someone whose mission it was to authentically make this world a better place. The most meaningful and purposeful act anyone could ever do.
To finalize the main point, purpose and meaning will help us move forward in life. They will give us direction when we are lost. They will be ideas to turn to when we are confused and we have found ourselves “stuck in the mud”. They are the reasons why we do what we do everyday. They are the things that we hold nearest and dearest to our hearts. They are our values, our loved ones, our passions, and our missions in life. They give us the guidance we need to live a life that is worth living.
When we find ourselves in situations where we are not feeling like what we’re doing matters, there is a high likelihood that those situations are not meaningful enough or purposeful enough to our soul and true self. This is why people struggle with the jobs that they hate, relationships where there’s no true love, and passions that were once desirable, but are no longer serving. Perhaps at once they were meaningful and purposeful, but that meaning and purpose was not sustainable because it didn’t set our souls on fire. The crazy part is, we all have this in us, but it’s a matter of finding it.
Every second of Jozef’s life was worth his while because his purpose and meaning were aligned with what he did in life. He figured this out by trying new things, planning for his future, and making decisions that supported himself and those he loved. He figured out that he wanted to love and care for the people in his life that he loved the most; he figured out that he wanted to teach and coach to pass on valuable life wisdom that you cannot put a price tag on. And he did all of this with his signature smile on his face, always.
May his spirit live on in all of us. May we all find as much purpose and meaning in our lives the way that Jozef did because our time here on this world is not infinite. It is so vital that we try to do our best everyday, live in a passionate way by doing the things we love to do that set our soul on fire. The world will be better off for it.