The most important thing I learnt in 2017
2017 has been the toughest year of my young life but I’m thankful it ended on a good note. As we start the new year I just want to share what I think is the most important thing I learnt last year, maybe it would help someone in their journey through the new year.
The most important thing I learnt during the year came as a result of me asking myself these simple questions “Why Live?”, “What is the purpose of life?”, “Why are we here?”. These are very simple questions, questions I’m guessing almost everybody will ask themselves at one point in their life yet finding answers to this questions turned out to be such a challenge for me as I couldn’t find satisfactory answers; answers I could consider to a good level of certainty to be right.
For a major part of the year, these questions bothered me a lot, not because I was contemplating suicide or anything of the sort but just because everything else I did seemed meaningless if I couldn’t answer these questions. My relationship with Friends and Family, My Career, Future plans, My Final exams… Everything was a waste of time.
Not being able to get answers to these questions made me feel lost and alone and I was really depressed for a while. I just went about forcing myself to smile and pretended everything was cool. The worst part for me was not being able to talk to people about these problems, it is really difficult starting some types of discussions and it seemed most people were happy without bothering about these things. I was afraid my asking these questions would only make them go through the suffering I was going through. I was also afraid I was going to get unsatisfactory answers and it would have just made me feel worse, so I gradually cut myself away from people.
Most people I know would answer these questions with the standard; “We are here to fulfill some divine purpose laid out according to the plans of God” or “We are not meant to know the purpose as it is beyond our human reasoning, we just accept life as it is” or some convoluted argument that the purpose is in the living. These answers have never really satisfied me, they all just seem incomplete and I’ve always had a strong feeling there should be more.
I suspected the answers to these questions are deeply personal, they are not the type of questions you can just tell someone the answers and they’ll fully get it. The answers are an intimate part of your being, your core identity as a self aware human being.
After lots of soul searching, book searching, deep thought 😁 and lots of help from Dr. Jordan Peterson’s lectures, I found answers that so far have been satisfactory enough.
Life is like a book.
Why should you read a book? You read a book because you find it interesting.
Is life interesting? For the most part, yes.
As far as I know, life is way more interesting than whatever it is being in a state of no life feels like. You get to change things, cause entropy, the entropy creates possibilities, possibilities of making things happen, you never know what could be around the corner, there are lots of potentials and probabilities. It’s all exciting. So the state of being is fun and interesting.
If the state of being, of having life is so exciting and so much fun, how come the act of living is full of suffering and pain… People die, everybody dies, people suffer unnecessarily, there’s so much injustice and pain in the world. There’s global warming, some people starve to death while some eat so much they die from overeating. Someone will just wake up one day and decide to murder people and cause suffering. Then you look at dead people and you ask yourself what was the point of this person’s life now?
The act of living is not so fun and exciting as it’s supposed to be. Why is this?
This is where it’s good to have religion and a belief system… It enables you see past the small picture, you can see the bigger picture... Yes, life is suffering but even in this world you can still have an exciting and happy life because there’s a bigger plan, a hope of a nirvana, a paradise where there’s eternal happiness and joy and even if you are in a desert somewhere with you watching all your loved ones die from sickness and starvation. You can still be happy, they are going to paradise and you’ll have an eternity of enjoyment. The perfect happily ever after story.
This is where the paradise narrative always breaks down for me. I don’t want to get into a religious argument but the older I get the more the paradise created by God to end all suffering argument seems unreasonable.
The answers I’ve found is Yes, life is full of suffering but there is a potential of getting a place far better than the current state of things but not because God promised us this place but because we, through our actions can create such a place.
Our life is not meaningless and no matter how small and insignificant it seems our role is in the big picture, it is still there, it changes something, your life and the things you do increases the probability of a certain future event. This is the principle of the Butterfly effect.
There are lots of evils, injustice and suffering in the world right now but with every tiny little step step we take to make things better, things actually get better not just for ourselves but for other people both in the present and in the future. Life gets better exponentially. This is the principle of Exponential growth.
Since we’ve determined that the state of being is a good thing. It’s our job to make sure to make sure that state continues to be propagated through time. It’s our job the book called life continues to be passed to others after we’ve done our part in making it a little bit better.
Please feel free to comment on your own answers to these questions. I’ll much like to learn from you.
To everybody I cut off last year, I’m sorry for not being there for you. There are some things I just had to deal with alone. Hope you understand. I promise to try my best to be there for my friends and family this year.
Cheers to the new year.