This maybe a holiday, adrenaline-laced lofty post, but hear me out.
I sit here sipping a cup of Costa cappuccino, people watching — couples, boys, girls, friends, families with kids — , enjoying the sun and waves in a foreign land.
I’ve missed this vacation feeling, going somewhere far away where no one really knows you. You see new things, you try new food, you take new paths, you have energy, you feel fearless, you have no responsibility nor accountability, just uninhibited existence. All the cliché’s you’ve probably heard come to mind — do whatever makes you happy, live everyday to the fullest, live in the present.
Why can’t I feel this way everyday.
It’s hard when you’re sat behind a laptop getting through work 9–5, 5 days a week and you’re exhausted by the end of it. And if you’re not in a 9–5 job, you’re struggling to make ends meet, or thriving to make your dreams come true, you’re exhausted too. The everyday mundanity bogs us down and we straddle to find some meaning and purpose that puts us down even more because we can’t find any.
Here’s a not so revolutionary thought. Maybe there isn’t any point or purpose or meaning to life.
Look at the people in your life, the famous people, the less fortunate ones in war struck, poverty struck lands — does everyone really have meaning or purpose? Or are they just making the most of life with the cards they’re being dealt with?
It’s always a life-death situation that strikes you doesn’t it. A close love of mine suffered a heart failure having to spend weeks in ICU and a open heart surgery at 15. She also has non-verbal autism.What is the point of her life — to recover from surgery and return to exist in a neurotypical world that isn’t designed to nurture her or be self sufficient?
Her carer used to write poetry, record duets but now is at a point of exhaustion between hospital and work. Is this the life they dreamed of at 20 — to be torn between caring for a sick child, afford her bills, have food on the table and pay school fees for another young child?
My mum, like most immigrant mums, left behind her talents, hopes and dreams to a new land where all she focused on was to raise her children. She exists today, priding herself with three graduates. Is that her point in life?
My dad moved to the city young to work abroad and provide more for his family and after he got married, to ours. He doesn’t know life apart from working, because all he’s ever known is to provide. Is that the purpose he endowed himself with?
The children in Syria, Palestine, Sri Lanka, Sudan, the list goes on…, who grow up with PTSD, constantly worried for their lives, who may have lost their families or lost their own lives between shelling and bombings. They definitely did not sign up for it. That couldn’t be their purpose in life — to experience trauma.
The pop stars and actors who just wanted to sing, dance and perform but get forced into being a version that is “marketable” and suffer the tabloid plagues to no end. Did they have to trade-off self worth to live their dream?
And then you see videos and posts about people singing and dancing in spite of the war and poverty. Friends and families having a laugh in spite of the hardships.
And really, that is life. Not a purpose, or meaning, but to have moments of joy, moments of thrill, moments of nothingness.
It doesn’t happen everyday. But also, it doesn’t just happen, you need to find them, create them, make time for them. The more I think about it, it’s really how you see it, your outlook in life, your perspective.
It’s about not getting bogged down by the little things that bother us at work and school — a delayed timeline, a “unforgivable” error, a dreadful grade, a nasty client, a cancelled delivery, a late bus. In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t really matter.
It’s about letting go of our bigger fears. Will I be rejected, will I look stupid, will they like me, what if they hate it, what if it’s the wrong move. You can’t control what’s going to happen or how others are going to react and so it shouldn’t stop you.
It’s cutting out things and people that take away unnecessary time and attention — the gossip, the family drama, the toxic friend. It just takes away time you can spend doing something fun or just not doing anything and letting your mind rest.
That said, I’m not going to miraculously stop overthinking or stop shopping to feel better on a shitty day or quit my job because it can get miserable. I will indulge in the occasional gossip and drama. I will still be terrified to do certain things.
But I’m going to do that less. I’m going to stop letting little things like a late bus ruin my day. I’m going to stop putting pressure on myself to find some grand purpose or meaning. I will continue to dabble in a thousand different things to learn, explore, find interests, get bored of them and find new ones again. I’ll choose and stay with people who add colour and positivity to my life. I will do stupid things without thinking about how people will feel about it.
Because the point is to live how you want to with the cards you’ve been dealt with.
Thanks for coming to my TED Talk.