Matchbox cars and Life Purpose

Yesterday, I met a 71 year-old retired man at a coffee shop. He had a bag full off little Matchbox cars.

Before talking to him, I watched the scene closely. It piqued my interest. I saw a boy with his dad looking through the bag the old man was holding and walking away with one. Curious, I approached him and asked him about the bag of cars. He briefly shared his story.

It turns out that, he has established himself in the community as a hub for exchanging little toy cars. Boys who take a car can return it once they get tired of playing with it and exchange it for a new one when they want to. It’s all free and without strings attached (the families know him, too).

I asked him why he does this. He said, “It’s something to do. No one on the island is known as the ‘Matchbox Grandpa” and smiled.

It hit me like a ton of bricks. This man, at that age, has created his own meaning in life all over again. I would not have expected someone at this age to have a “life purpose” other than enjoying his family, grandkids and banana pancakes.

He overcame a very common issue for people his age: loss of meaning and purpose in life. I was so impressed and inspired by the creative way he solved this problem and built a community around something he enjoys (kids and toy cars). The man sitting next to him mumbled as his lips were about to make contact with the coffee cup, “Kids keep us young”. After this conversation, I wanted to go back to reading my book.

But I couldn’t concentrate. This man had moved something in me. I didn’t have to get a PhD to find a purpose for my life. I also didn’t have to lock a purpose in to never change it again. How refreshing is that?

We always get what we need, even if it not what we had wanted initially.

What are your initial reactions?