The unexamined life is not worth living
Socrates once said that the unexamined life is not worth living. I grieve at the grim reality that most of us live such “unexamined” lives and then we die. Inside your head is one of the most irreducibly complex wonders of the universe, and you are afraid to use it for more than a game of Angry Birds. Around you is a world filled to the brim with miracles, marvels, manifestations that shout questions at you, but you prefer to focus all your attention onto the lives of the Kardashians. One of the greatest mysteries in all of the known universe stares back at you in the mirror, but your greatest concern is how to style your hair.
The silent procession to nowhere
And all the while, life is fleeing. Its reminiscent of a candle, bright and full of motion when lit, a small flicker later there is only a short puff of smoke, and then empty darkness. In that short span, from cradle to grave, most of us are stuck in a dreamlike state, dumbed down by the narcotics of trifle amusements and selfish aspirations. I imagine a long line of human beings, stretching from eternity past, to the far reaches of the future. We march along in this silent procession, always keeping our eyes down, too busy to look up and see where we are or where we are going. Always fixated on minor details, on the “what I should eat or wear.” And when someone raises their voice and shows the futility of this march, he is quickly scorned, rejected, or crucified. And the mass of humanity continues, never asking where we are going or why.
The questions that need answers
A few days ago, I read a few Facebook posts about a young guy who recently died in an accident. I was shocked to see his profile, a day before, was filled with life, football games, a new condo, and a recent wedding. And without any warning, the scissors of fate cut off his life. He was gone. A day later I felt faint and nearly passed out a few times. It caught me by surprise, and jolted me with a reminder about the unpredictability of life, and the closeness of death to each of us. For a few minutes I wondered, “am I dying?” I asked myself “is this it? Did I live 26 years, to this moment, and it all ends here?” Obviously it didn’t, but it will. I don’t know where or how, but I know it will. For many of us, it’s only in that final moment we begin to really think. It’s when our heart, the closest of companions, gives up its unappreciated toils; it’s when our possessions and positions are grasped from our cold hands that we realize the nature of existence. I urge you, before that happens, ask yourself these questions:
1. Why am I me? (YOUR IDENTITY)
Where did you come from? We know you came from a tiny sperm and egg within your parents, but is that it? You are the result of a millions of lines of DNA programming? Can you really believe that? Why are you the person that you are? Why are you male/female, white/black, skilled or talented in certain things? What makes this important for you to be this? Why don’t you change and be completely different? Why?
2. Why is this world like this? (UNIVERSAL MEANING)
Where did everything come from? The bees, trees, mathematics, stars, oceans, and wars? Where did it come from and why is it here? Why are there atoms and cells? Why are there sounds, sights, and smells? Why is there pain, suffering, sickness, and death? Why do our bodies age? Why have all humans, just like you and I, died? Where have they gone? Why?
3. Why am I here? (PERSONAL PURPOSE)
Please, I beg you, ask this. Why the bloody heck are you here? You only do things because they have a purpose, you eat when hungry, drink when thirsty, read when seeking to learn, work to get paid, and etc. Everything has a purpose or a reason. So why do you live? All of us humans are thrown into this big pot called life, and we never ask why? Why not? This is the biggest question in your whole existence, and its implications are of infinite importance! Why in the world are you here? If there is no purpose to anything, than why do you live? If there is a purpose, what is it? Are you searching for it? Why?