It is a lucky and selfish person who gets to ask what their purpose is on Earth. So many people never get a chance to ask that question, and never know the exquisite peace that can come out of an examined life. Those who live in countries where these questions can be asked need to not forget our gratitude, and perhaps to send our hopes that one day all people can ask the same questions of themselves.
Is it naval gazing to wonder on our own fate? In a way it is. But I think it can be useful, too, and perhaps it is even a duty. Perhaps we have to do it just because there are so many souls trapped in lives they cannot control, headed towards destinies they do not deserve.
I believe the first step anyone who truly wants to get in touch with their purpose here on Earth must take is a step towards absolute honesty. In so many ways this first step is the most difficult and daring one of all, but also the most necessary one. If we are not honest with ourselves, we go on to build a whole life of lies, a teetering mass of meaningless words and stories that will crumble at the slightest discord. Any journey must begin with honesty, or else there is simply no point.
Take marriage and child rearing. These two things are base moves, and most people are expected to do one if not both. However, there is and always has been a segment of the population for whom this desire never arrived. If they are allowed to freely enjoy their wishes, and not made to feel odd or wrong for not choosing to be married or to procreate, society as a whole will benefit.
Society is what forces people to be dishonest with themselves much of the time. And while society has a reason and function–to keep things under control and not allow chaos to truly rule–perhaps now, in the 21st century, we have reached a point where we no longer have to lie.
People feel pressured to enter the rat race, to attend the right school, to get the right job, and live in the correct neighborhood. For some, perhaps, they enjoy it. But there are always those poor souls who get trapped in suburbia, in a 9-5 routine with no way out. They spend their lives dreaming of doing what they truly love. Perhaps it’s opening a bakery, or running a riding school, or studying frogs. Who knows! It almost doesn’t matter; what matters is there is a poor soul caught doing something it doesn’t want to do, and you cannot win the card game we are all playing with Father Time.
I think, also, that activity is called for more often than not. Not the mindless busy activity that compels us to build bigger cars and widen the roads and keep the stores open later and later. What I mean is activity by way of engagement. When we engage with life, we discover things about ourselves we would not have otherwise. When we decide to care about what is happening in another town, when we try to put ourselves in another’s shoes, we become wiser and more compassionate. To engage with life is to experience the sweet joy of social consciousness. When we decide that others matter, we suddenly matter, too.
If our youth today can lead a life of engagement, perhaps they will not be bound to a life of drudgery brought about by trying to please parents, peers, or society at large. If this great technological age gives us one thing, let it be the ability of people to choose exactly what it is they want to do with their lives, and may they have the fortitude to carry out their wishes.