I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what the purpose of life is and whether or not existence is supported by some underlying reasoning. It’s a thought stream with a current that cannot be escaped. Once the mind starts to ponder “why” something must be done, it doesn’t stop pondering. Everything that get’s you excited or arouses fear or builds anticipation is now engulfed in a single thought cloud that fogs the emotional impact. I find each surge of dopamine in my mind being countered with an equal surge of pessimistic logic, specifically the idea that, “in 100 years, I’ll be dead anyways”. It’s a depressing plague in some instances and a reassuring sedative in others. The good things in life are temporary and so are the bad, each one inevitably being stamped out by the boot of father time. These ideas have made me rethink everything I’ve wanted to do in life, and more importantly, they’ve made me reevaluate the concept of wanting altogether.
When I was in high school, my goal was to be perfect. Through a naive lens, I had convinced myself that this fanciful goal was attainable. I threw hours of my time at writing essays and studying for tests. I worked out for 2 to 3 hours a day and aimed to be the fastest, strongest, most versatile athlete I could be. In a town of less than 20,000 people and a class of 165 kids, “perfection” was possible. Nonetheless, when I graduated and moved away for college, the naive lens began to crack and I started to see reality. There were millions of other human beings with a similar drive to my own, each one attending college, saving money, learning new skills, and trying to be the best at whatever they did. In all honesty, I had egregiously underestimated the people who surrounded me based on the simple fact that I could score higher on tests and lift a few more pounds in the weight room. The lens I had viewed the world through was insanely distorted and I am embarrassed to look back at who I was and what I believed. I think this is one of the reasons I felt a strong need to move away from my hometown – as my lens cracked, so did everyone else’s. The embarrassing part is that my lens seemed to have a stronger distortion factor than most other people’s and I don’t know how to stand in the presence of peers and acknowledge this.
That’s a small digression, but the point is that I was working hard for a long time believing that it would pay off immensely in the end. More than that, I believed that there was a payoff worthy of the extra work, the extra hours, the extra effort. The logical concept of time destroyed this illusion for me and the quote I chose for my year book entry was a premonition of sorts.
The years teach much which the days never know Ralph Waldo Emerson
Put bluntly, this quote is likely referencing how general wisdom builds over time but for me, the meaning is different. I think this quote holds the key to escaping life’s monotony and structure. When you adjust your scale to use years instead of days and view the timeline of your existence from a distance of 10,000 feet, the trials and tribulations are dwarfed to nothingness. The grainy details are blurred and then rendered invisible, like inspecting a brick under a microscope and then at arm’s length and then from a mile away.
Using this approach, you have a few options on how to live life and where to position your perspective. The simplest option is to ignore the finite nature of existence and become strangled by the adversities of everyday life. Upon choosing this option, you cash in your ticket to ride the roller coaster of life, rejoicing at the day’s minor victories and lamenting over the happenings that don’t go your way. By being caught up in the close reality around you, you learn to ignore, or perhaps even forget, that this life has an end date. For some, letting the chaos of everyday life distract you from meeker truths sounds like a fine option.
The second option is to surrender everything, accept the apparent story that this life has no permanence, and recede into a black hole of depression. Nothing is worth doing because nothing can result in anything that lasts forever. Of course, humoring this option requires you to assume that to have a legitimate impact on existence, an event must have permanent effects and further that permanency is a real and desirable thing. If the heat death of the universe actually occurs, than the permanency that we are familiar with cannot exist…so even the attribute that would qualify an event as meaningful (permanence) is doubtful.
The third option is to believe in something beyond the boundaries of our current intelligence and the ability of the human mind to eventually understand that thing. If you choose this option, it is assumed you acknowledge that worldly endeavors are pointless since their impacts will we erased by time and nature. Because of this, it makes little sense to pursue worldly endeavors with all your effort since this would effectively mean spending your energy on a pursuit you know to have no merit and doing so would mean wasting that energy. The question then becomes, “What should you do?”. I argue that you should maximize your ability to pursue the things beyond your intelligence that resemble purpose. In other words, your purpose should be to discover a purpose that defies the limitations of the natural world.
In one way or another, the goal of this blog is to explore how one can do this and why this is even necessary. The exploration begins with maximizing your free time by achieving financial independence and continues indefinitely until some real purpose has been uncovered in the galactic soup that is our universe.