All I know April is, I want to feel things. Really – feel them, you know. How’s that for an ambition? – Frank Wheeler, Revolutionary Road (2008)
That’s my ambition as well, Frank. Insane as it may sound, it does make sense to me. For the longest time (and even now) I have been grappling with the big question of purpose. Every time I think of this word “purpose”, I can’t help but think how pompous it all is. Each and everyone of us, trying to find their “purpose” in life. Trying to see what it is that makes us so unique, so important. Keeping all empirical evidence on the table, I believe there is no realization of that purpose. There is just navigation and further discovery.
However, I won’t be as cynical as dismissing the importance of having the illusion of a purpose. A purpose is the summation of all your beliefs, capitalizing on your strengths. Think of it as a compass, which will tell you if you’re lost in life. In life, just a vague sense of where we’re headed is sometimes enough for us to move ahead. And that is exactly what purpose does. It gives you some kind of assurance, that you’re on the right path.
All of this of course, is subjective. Concepts like ‘being lost’ or ‘on the right path’ may vary from person to person. They change meaning as you change cultures, they change meaning as you look at different times. I have often wondered about the existence of such ideas, which validate your life with a stamp. As I understand it, everyone creates their own set of validating ideas and that is extremely important in the meaning making process of life. And thus, validating the necessity of the illusion of a purpose.
To state it simply, it is important to differentiate between the “purpose” which places you at the center and the “purpose” which you use to navigate life. The former is a bit self-centered (as humans can tend to be) and gives rise to unnecessary expectations and pressure. The latter, is a useful tool to survive. In other words, the former uses you while you end up using the latter.
A lot of bullshit can be filtered if we keep this in mind. The mindless gimmicks of religion or nationalism fall under the first category while the larger consciousness of humanity asking you to create, falls under the second. But this is not why I started to write this post. I ended up explaining the purpose bit because I did not want it to be misunderstood.
Getting back to the quote- and it’s a personal opinion- that all I find worth doing is so that I can feel things. That’s the only concrete thing that has given me peace. To experience life in its absurdity, ecstasy and sorrow. To revel in the present, to marvel at the past and to wonder about the future. People who think, are often at loggerheads with people who feel. But tell me, when you think, do you not feel? Or when you feel, do you stop thinking?
Which brings me to the next part- the need of the hour in my humble opinion is to act. While debates spring up often in every nook and corner of the social media and dinner table conversations, they stay frozen at those avenues. ‘All said and done’ can’t exist if things are just left said and undone! Increasingly, people are becoming enclosed by their words instead of being set free. I am one of those people. Ironic that I am writing it out. We’ve grown so accustomed to the depository way of learning, we forget that learning remains incomplete without application. (Depository way of learning is the traditional methods that schools use to educate their pupils- overload of information and negligible time for synthesis or action) It’s been a while since we all learned something, hasn’t it?
“The world at large needs more doers than thinkers” – Anshu Gupta, Founder, Goonj (2016)
In an age of muzzled priorities and lustrous opportunities, the soul takes a beating. Do something, to fulfill those promises you made to yourself. Create something, to carve out the person you wanted to be. Act on your thoughts, to save yourself from regret. Please don’t let the best ideas stay inside your head. Let them breathe too. That’s all for now, I best stop writing and start doing. Although writing is an action, isn’t it? 😉
P.S. This post was not written on purpose. (pun intended)