Wednesday, April 28, 2010

life: purpose

it's weird how getting older changes you. Or how you change by getting older....i'm not really sure which way it works but I'm pretty convinced that it is relevant to know the difference.

My friend Nadine recently said something about how your 20s are supposedly the most self-absorbed time in your life. I can totally see that in a way. (although in another way I'd like to point out that my mid-to-late teens were also incredibly self-absorbed. I think that really 15 to 25 counts as the absolute most obnoxiously the-world-revolves-around-me era of life...but what do i know, i've only just cleared 25 by a few years).

In another way though my 20s have been about learning how to not be so obsessed with myself; how to get over myself actually. Maybe that's the process known as maturation, I don't know.

I'm not sure how i feel about all this maturity, however (if that's what it is). It's a little disarming if i'm going to be honest. I've gone from someone so enamored with her own thoughts that she had countless journals filled with ~*deep and moving*~ paragraphs to being someone who can barely muster up an opinion on various current events. 
I used to "take a stand" (which probably really only ended up materializing itself as throwing a tantrum or creating a scene or being juvenile) on a regular basis. I would argue at dinner tables, debate on car rides, post pithy quotations and status updates on my various internet portals to the world. Now though? Now I sort-of play it safe, I bite my tongue, I don't formulate ideas or come up with arguments. I don't even really think about things the way I used to. 

I literally used to drive around in my car and contemplate the meaning of my existence. I would analyze how i felt and why, I would constantly try to improve upon myself and I would debate with myself questions of morality and ethics.  Now I listen to NPR and wear my sunglasses and refrain from texting while driving and it's not even that I think about things that are less interesting than i used's more that i don't think about anything at all.

I'm not sure if this means that I have matured, that i've gotten over myself, that i've grown up, that i've become an adult or if in fact it means that I have just finally lost my own personal "it", whatever "it" was (you know, my own personal purpose in life, my personality, that force which makes me a unique and identifiable's that Thing that all American's are brought up believing they have - their special snowflakeness, their individuality). 

'Cause I used to feel this super driving sense of purpose about life, I had this idealistic "if i could change the world I would be the sunlight in your universe" kinda point of view (that's from a song by Eric Clapton) about things. Now I don't feel much of anything about anything anymore. I don't feel a driving purpose, i don't feel idealism. I see things and I sigh at them. I predict people's actions and am disappointed when I'm right and don't care to analyze it when I'm wrong. 

And i do realize the irony of writing this post about how I'm no longer self-absorbed and the whole thing is focused on me and the way i used to think and act and how that is juxtaposed with the way i currently think and act. I know, i get it. It's amusing in one way but sad in another. 

I guess what I'm saying is that I have realized for a while now that this magical sense of "I can be and do anything in life" and "Every life matters" has just kind of drifted away and I don't know if i should go chasing after it like a lost kite on a summer afternoon or if i should just stand on the ground and watch it float away, the way that we all have to release some childhood beliefs at one time or another. 

But isn't there a sadness to that? Isn't there something awful about resigning to life? Haven't there been great thinkers and do-ers and people who populate our history books and our oral traditions who didn't give up on those childhood beliefs?  What would the world be without the people who still thought that they had the capacity to do or be something in the world? And how did those people exist without having at least some ounce of self-absorption? Don't you have to be somewhat self-obsessed in order to trust yourself enough to go out there in life and CHANGE things for real?

I don't know, I don't even know what the real point is that I'm trying to get at. I guess I just wish I could climb to a mountain top and hear the booming voice of some benevolent creator tell me that I matter and that my life matters and to never give up and to go forward and to make something fabulous happen in my life because in the end it will all be worthwhile afterall. 
I guess on the one hand that's an immature wish to have.  But on the other, part of me thinks that the real thing to do is to learn how to hear those words in my own head and from my own heart. To go forth and believe those words fully, even if I'm the only one saying them. 

Because life just ends up being about what we choose to see and what we choose to do anyway. Sure, we could die and the lights could go out and that could be the end of it all; there could ultimately be no purpose whatsoever to any of this. But is that a reason to sit around and do nothing meaningful with your life? I don't think it is. I think that it's best to live life like there might be something more to it. I think it's better to find some kind of purpose and to go out there and hang onto that purpose with everything you have and to allow it to infuse meaning into everything you do because that's the only way that this whole thing will make any sense whatsoever. That's the only way to feel truly alive and not like you're just going through the motions.

At the end of the day it won't matter if you were right or wrong when your last breath leaves you and you find out the secrets if there are any. What will matter is whether you wasted the time you had here or whether you had the courage to really live. 
And i guess for me part of that courage would require me to stay self-absorbed. To continue to be moved by totally emo song lyrics and to wear clothes that reflect my mood and to start up long conversations with random people about whether they're happy in life or not (I once spent a whole night talking to the coat-check-person about their aspirations to join the FBI). I would like to go back to being that person who i used to be because I've spent the last two and a half years as this other person who has just decided to go with the flow of life and it's been boring and depressing and worst of all, it's been pretty pointless. And I don't wanna feel that way anymore. 

So i guess the hard part now is just figuring out how to get back there again...suggestions are welcomed. I hope it's not too late.


  1. Reminds me also of this bit I heard on NPR:

    I say that's true. I'm 28 and I just started REALLY growing up and being more of an adult.

  2. This is the best thing I've read in a long while.