In Being Mortal, Atul Gawande writes about a woman who had been living independently for years and who in her old age, was forced to move to a nursing home. “The things she missed most, she told me, were her friendships, privacy, and a purpose to her days.”

The reference to Being Mortal is by the way. Apart from the fact that it is a brilliantly written book that everyone should read, I have nothing to add. But Dr Gawande’s phrase ‘a purpose to her days’ clung to me and refused to leave – as though it was the precise phrase I had been searching for, for a long time.

It is not only about the old woman in a nursing home counting her last days. We are all consciously or unconsciously seeking a purpose to our existence. When we are young and busy, this search is outside our view. Our mind is clouded by the daily routines, priorities and hurries. As we grow older, we let go of some of those activities, give more importance to the real priorities in life and then the road springs to view.

Where are we headed? Why are we headed that way? Which of my activities have some meaning to me? Which of those are my mere duties to others? Which of my life’s purposes have I sacrificed? Why am I here?

What thought excites us when we wake up in the morning? What will happen if nothing I do comes to fruition? What if none of my dreams ever come true?

Why do I get up each morning and make sure my family is on their way to attain their priorities and happiness? Why do I sit before my work and strive to derive some satisfaction from it? Why do I dream about miracles that may never take place? Why do I look at the road less travelled and tell myself, ‘No, I am not at liberty to pursue it today’? What if tomorrow when I am ready for it, I am not healthy enough? What if one day I find that I have nothing to wake up for?

What is the purpose of my days?