I usually write these new year posts on the new year itself, so it is probably telling considering how late it is.
“He who has a why to live can bear almost any how”, Viktor Frankl proclaimed. I spent my entire life searching for my why, and there were phases when I was absolutely certain that I had my why, only to discover they were illusionary and transient in nature. My whys, to my own chagrin, were probably the consequence of societal conditioning. To live, we have to believe we are useful.
A purposeless existence is a hard one to live for, to exist without an anchor. I am no longer interested in searching for one, because philosophically I don’t believe that the value of an existence must lie in one’s purpose or utility. One is valuable simply because we exist against all evolutionary odds. Just by becoming who we are, we are already expressing a part of the universe.
I do realise I am a contradiction.
The past year, I gradually lost interest in everything I once cared for. The U.S. elections had only accelerated the inevitable process. I thought I was falling into some deep bottomless pit as I no longer knew what to live for. It turns out even if I had time on my side, all the love I can possibly have in the world, I still didn’t feel like living. I write this not with sadness, but with a certain peace in my heart.
I used to believe that all I needed to do was to find the right work, the right people, the right set of circumstances, the right purpose. I feel like I have lived through a lot of the seemingly right conditions in life and yet at the deepest core of my soul I still knew.
Maybe in trying to search for the right conditions, I had neglected the fact that I needed to become the right person for myself.
In 2017, I just want to have the courage to stop abusing myself, that is all. I am not sure how many times I have chosen to: put myself in disempowering situations, exert my health as though it is unbreakable, mould myself into what people want out of me, make unrealistic demands on myself. I have an unending martyr complex even though I can’t even save myself much less anyone else, and I say really terrible things about myself in my own head. I emotionally and mentally abuse myself even as I am on an experimental sabbatical. Deeply entrenched behavior doesn’t change just because I am free of traditional employment.
Our shadows follow us everywhere. I want to be brave enough to see them.
In between moments of existential despair, I have started to feel a bubbling awareness. Perhaps to lose one’s self completely, to accept purposelessness— is a gift. I am only but shedding my flimsily constructed existence based on societal demands. I am moving towards a blank slate, to construct a new narrative I can bear to live in.
I just need to stop trying to turn backwards into the safe familiarity of my old story.