Seeking Existential Crisis

Luke Palmer
Apr 24, 2016 · 2 min read

I have been feeling the onset of a certain lack of purpose. I retired from work (for a while) and I knew feelings like this would be coming; indeed part of my purpose in retiring was to stare into the void, to know my existence as separate from my doings. And so come waves of anxiety about not producing enough music, or seeking clients for coaching, or helping the needy or contributing to society — a carousel of all the valuations I have, tugging at me each in turn, telling me how I ought to be doing this or that.

I left my job telling everyone I was going to pursue music. “Pursue music,” in the storybook of our culture, means either to produce albums, get a following, go on tour, get famous; or to devote your life to it, practice 5 hours a day, become a master, and play in concert halls for rich people. And some days I do think I want those things… and on others I see that I’m just reading from the storybook.

There’s a sweet cat named Jacksy who lives where I rent this little guest house. It helps me to watch him be. He exists effortlessly, like a tree or a mountain. He is nature. There’s no right or wrong for him, whatever he does is just nature, just Jacksy being Jacksy.

I think I sought the conditions for an existential crisis because I detected the absurdity of the memes running my mind: that I need to live up to some image of a successful person, that there is a right way to be, that it is possible to fuck it up. Wherever I go with my life, I would rather not be carrying these. And so I empty myself, and it sure does feel empty. I venture here with faith that at some point I will fill up again, that love of existence itself fills the holes that beliefs and valuations vacate. I hope so, because it seems impossible to turn back. The same air smells more crisp, as though I were climbing a mountain. This is one of my guides toward freedom.

Luke Palmer

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Musician, improviser, emotional explorer