It’s Wednesday. You’ve finished two days at your job. Conversations, work and the general humdrum rhythm of everyday life keep you occupied. Occasionally in moments of involuntary isolation, on a commute, in the washroom or within the first few minutes of reaching home, a thought crosses your mind.
‘What am I doing with my life?’
What you are doing at this point is reviewing the quality of your narrative, wondering if this would really make for a great story. If you have ever used a search engine, you know that the answer you want is almost entirely dependent on the question you ask. That, dear reader, is the point of this piece.
There must be more to this.
What do I mean by ‘more’? How much ‘more’ and of what? What is ‘this’ anyway?
Our constant search for meaning can be frustrating, but it is what has kept this species moving along, this inherent drive to discover, create and exceed. To sate this need, we use relationships, science, religion work and anything else that might ease our need for understanding. We swap behaviours (“my resolution is…”), appearances (“a complete makeover sounds great!”), and schools of thought (“I used to be an atheist, but now I’m agnostic”).
Preoccupation and to some extent philosophical enquiry, however, are just ways to navigate the mire. And before you can traverse a journey, it may be important to ask what you’re working with. Perhaps the more pertinent question to ask is ‘what am I made of?’
Flesh and bones or heart and soul, what exactly am I made of?
Our sentience, power of agency and imagination differentiate us from other beings. You are not a self-fulfilling prophecy or a narrative seeking to reach a fruitful end. You are a person. A unique entity, made unique by conditioning, practice, memories, and imagination. Your senses are constantly at work analyzing your physical environment and your social context to create a picture of the world as you see it, your ‘reality’. Yes, physical limitations can change the way you explore aspects of your life, as can financial, social and emotional constraints, but that only adds to the uniqueness.
‘Nothing is impossible’, they said.
The social web has reduced fifteen minutes of fame to a microsecond spent on a small screen flying beneath an unsuspecting thumb, a phenomenon that hasn’t just warped our perception of success but magnified our capacity for comparison. This also instills in us some interesting conundrums. A moderately accurate understanding of ability is combined with a burning need to transcend our context.
If you’re still with me, pay close attention. Validation does not determine your relevance. Ambition does. A desire to understand yourself does. The intrinsic curiosity for life does. Know that not having an answer still means that you asked the question. Meaning isn’t linear, it’s the process of discovery. Being constantly connected has meant that our minds are in overdrive, having us fret over falling behind in a race we never signed up for, that we aren’t even running. There’s no need to run. Think about where you are just now, sat at home unwinding, traveling to meet a friend or taking a break at work. Take a moment and remember the last joke you told or heard or the last story that made you think. And now, take a deep breath, and ask yourself, ‘what am I made of?’
Leave an answer in the comments. I’d love to have a chat.