The Purpose of Life

Maybe there actually is a point to us being here, maybe we do all have some important role to play in the grand scheme of things. Or maybe some people do, and the rest of us are just pawns. Neither one of those seems very appealing. In the first case, having something to work towards without having any idea of the goal is just frustrating. The second.. well, you just end up being a pawn. Who wants that? (ok, maybe some people do.)

I'll admit that at times I like to believe that there's some plan and reason to things, and that things usually work out the way they're supposed to. But, for the sake of this post, I'm going to shun the ideas of fate, destiny, predetermination, and any other words with similar meaning. This is another "path to happiness" type post I guess, and it might just be a rehash of what I've posted before – hopefully not.. but sitting here at work has made me start to rethink what it is I'm "supposed" to be doing.

At first I was thinking the answer was "It's not what I'm 'supposed' to be doing, but what I 'want' to be doing." But that's both right and wrong. I'm supposed to be doing whatever it is that makes me happy, and what I want to be doing plays a big role in that. The problem is, I'm not really sure what it is I want to be doing with my life, or what it is that would truly make me happy. I think a lot of people run into this problem, and I think it's why there's such a large market for self-improvement products. It's much easier to figure out that you don't like what you're currently doing than it is to figure out what you'd like to be doing.

A quick inventory of the things that I like brought up: photography, programming, writing, and a girl that I care so much about. If I could figure out how to bring in those good things into my life, and manage to support myself without having to bring in a job that I dread going to.. that would be my dream life. That would be the thing that makes me happy, and the thing that I'm supposed to do.

I think I just figured out a huge chunk of my life in the last 5 minutes. I can't work here much longer. I have to make the leap and try to build a better life instead of sticking with what's comfortable. I don't know how to break past the fear of facing the unknown though. People do it all the time. You, whoever is reading this, have probably made blind leaps towards your goals at times. How?

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  1. Chaim said,

    Great post.

    I totally hear you, and you really got me thinking. I think we all get to this point, perhaps even multiple times throughout our lives. What it all comes down to is how big of a risk you are willing to take, and how much ambition you have.

    Everyone wants to tell you what you are "supposed" to be doing. Family, teachers, friends… They all have an idea. But a thought occurred to me quite recently: When's the last time you read an obituary that said, "So and so died, and he will be missed. He did what he was supposed to do." Everyone cares that you do what you are "supposed" to do when you are alive, but as soon as you are gone, it doesn't mean anything.

    A few years ago I realized that I wasn't doing what I wanted to be doing. I was going to a community college and found the experience to be completely void of any meaning. All I wanted to do was write. No degree was going to make me a better writer. I saved up some money, quit my job, and moved to an old farmhouse in the middle of nowhere, way way way up in Northern California. I didn't work for over two months. I slept. I cooked. I wrote. I had a cheap electric typewriter. Pages and pages. It was all I did. After a while, I got a job because I needed one, and I was lucky enough to find one quickly in a town where they were very hard to come by.

    Later, I moved out here to New York City. There was a girl involved. Now that relationship is gone and over with, but a year and a half later I'm still here. Two years of working in this city and I was still as broke as the day I got here. And, in the meantime, writing had been put on the back burner. So, a few weeks ago, I quit work. I gave them my notice, and once the final day came, I left and didn't look back. My rent is paid through the end of next month. Aside from that, I have a few hundred dollars to my name. For the past two weeks, I have done nothing but write. To say it's been an happy time would be a huge understatement! 🙂

    In a couple of more weeks, I will NEED to find new work. And I will. That does not concern me. Why? Because despite all of the worst case scenario predictions I have run through my head, the truth is that I've always been alright. It'll work out. I have a little faith, and a hard-working attitude.

    Life's pointless without risks, I guess it what I'll say. Sometimes you need to make gambles if you are going to be happy. Unhappiness is too steep a price to pay for playing it safe.

    Anyway, that's it from me. Sorry for the really long comment but, like I said, you got me thinking. 🙂

    September 19, 2007 @ 7:23 pm

  2. Kate said,

    wow, that's a lot of insightful things you've discussed in this blog. i totally agree with you about struggling with the meaning and purpose of one's life. the world seems so big and we're just 1 small person in it that it doesn't feel like we have a purpose or an impact upon it. but you have to look smaller: look at those lives you impact and influence every day just through your daily interactions. there are many lives you touch just by a friendly smile or a kind word. while we humans will forever struggle with why we are here, it's important to remember that even though the world may not remember us because of what we did or didn't do to impact history, the people who are close to us will surely always remember us and hold on tight to those memories.

    as for you coming to terms with what you want to do with your life, i understand your need to break free from the comfortable and try something new and different. it's the comfortable that holds a lot of people back, including me, i'll admit it. you have a lot going for you, and you shouldn't let fear hold you back (although i do that a lot too :-P) i hope you find a way to break free from whatever holds you back today so that you find your happiness and your purpose in the future. never give up, my friend.

    September 20, 2007 @ 8:51 am

  3. Ric said,

    Trust me that the deep matters of life never get easier. Navigating their shadows in the real world gets easier with experience, but not the profound things themselves.

    If you keep moving and hustling and bustling you can skip right over the surface of life and never understand a thing. If you stop moving, you can sink in and never come back. It's the balance that matters, it's finding the spot in the middle of the teeter-totter that keeps you sane and happy.

    Me, I haven't even found the damn playground where they keep the teeter-totters yet.


    BTW thanks for the comment on the general strike.

    September 20, 2007 @ 11:59 am

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