Isn’t it interesting… Isn’t it interesting that this question creates an almost irresistible urge to explore further, to know more, to find out? I believe there is, in the human psychology, a well hidden yet persistent curiosity to discover the meaning of life. Deeper still, there is this unsaid yet burning quest for the experience of being alive. A quiet yearning to fulfill ourselves. An experience that our modern society and the all-powerful Gods of Western consumerism and technological progress have slowly but surely alienated us from.
Why are you here?
For centuries, attempts have been made to provide a suitable answer, yet many people still feel like they are no closer to clarity. Deep down, I believe most of us know that there is something big at play. I believe this because regardless of the time or place, every single conversation I have had with someone on this topic led us down a beautiful and inspiring path. Every individual knows, deep down, that exploring their consciousness and diving into the idea of a purpose to their life is both exhilarating and terrifying.
So why is it that I still see, all around me, people leading lives of quiet desperation? People not doing anything to make their lives about meaning? People saying they don’t know what their purpose is, but they are not even looking for it? I have come to conclude that most people convince themselves into thinking this kind of reflection is either fruitless, or that it is some sort of spiritual bullsh*t.
I can’t judge them. I was there once. I went to the best business school in Europe. In my first year after graduation, I probably earned more money than 90% of my peer group. And I very much recall having this split mindset: in private, I was able to explore the depth of human consciousness and the reason why we exist, if I was with someone I could trust. But in public, I would put on my rational, accomplished, certain, ambitious and modernly educated mask. I was a perfect soldier of the old paradigm, the one that told you to conform, and that to live well meant to succeed professionally, to be humbly respected, and to reach as high as the corporate ladder would allow you to.
I was addicted to achievement. I needed to prove myself. I wanted this professional status, I wanted “success” as measured by the canons of this old paradigm (money being one of them). I was miles away from doing anything about this question: “why am I here…”. Sometimes, when I was alone, I would think about it and talk to myself. But then, very soon, I would turn away from this internal exploration. The implications of such a question were too painful to consider, because my life was not in adequacy with the deeper meaning I knew this question would lead me to.
Only one day, the gap became too painful to ignore. The life I was leading simply was not congruent with the deeper knowing of why I was here. It was not a thought. It was not even an articulated knowing. It’s not like I had a crystal clear answer to this question. I only had a feeling. A silent feeling of pain; a disgusted feeling of waste; a pityful feeling of meaninglessness.
I decided not to live a life of quiet desperation.
I chose the challenge to chase and “follow my bliss”, even if I did not know where that would lead me. Even if this decision would lower my lifestyle. Even if I was letting go of professional prestige, and perks, and pension, and everything else which belongs to this gigantic trickery, the illusion of safety that is the old paradigm.
Nearly three years later, I have a sense of why I am here, even if it is not fully articulated yet. My intuition is guiding me, and I know it is leading towards something much greater than me. Never before have I understood more clearly the words of mythologist and writer Joseph Campbell.
“We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”
Pay close attention. Listen to yourself. What is this voice inside you telling you? What is this sensation in your body? What is your intuition pointing to? What are your thoughts hiding from? Pay close attention.
The slightest feeling of discomfort can be your best guide. Be curious.
Why are you here?