Defining Life's Purpose
As I write this, I'm watching the sun set on Maui, HI. I'm finally on vacation with family and my "normal" life-pace has slowed to a crawl. Rule number one of vacation: don't come to an island and be in a hurry. What am I doing with all the extra time? Aside from collecting an impressive sun-burn and sipping "POG juice" (passion, orange, guava), I've been reflecting. Because, when you expend so much of your energy attempting to just stay afloat daily responsibilities, it can feel insurmountable to carve out this sacred time to think.
Here's what's on my mind.
As busy people drifting through daily routines it's easy to forget about perspective. Our subconscious puts us at the center of the universe. For example, if we're stuck in traffic, the traffic appears to happening to us, not the other hundreds of cars on the highway. And though we're aware of others around us, it takes tremendous effort to transplant our perception into somebody else's lens, thus we usually take the path of least resistance and continue to view our environment as the center of existence.
I'm particularly inspired by those brave few who dare to trespass the accepted societal norms and instead choose to pave their own road to fulfillment. Many of these people happen to be artists. Entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs also embody this description. Just because someone else vocalizes his or her "perspective" or opinion does not mean they hold the only opinion. This is true for food, entertainment, and most definitely philosophy. Bill Watterson, creator of Calvin and Hobbes gave this commencement speech to the Kenyon graduating class of 1990. Especially if you're in your early 20's I implore you to read this inspiring address.
Creating a life that reflects your values and satisfies your soul is a rare achievement. In a culture that relentlessly promotes avarice and excess as the good life, a person happy doing his own work is usually considered an eccentric, if not a subversive. Ambition is only understood if it's to rise to the top of some imaginary ladder of success. Someone who takes an undemanding job because it affords him the time to pursue other interests and activities is considered a flake. A person who abandons a career in order to stay home and raise children is considered not to be living up to his potential-as if a job title and salary are the sole measure of human worth.
Dare to derive your own life's meaning. It won't be easy. You'll be scoffed at by the majority. But at least you'll be honest. I ask myself every day if I'm living my own dream or someone else's. If the answer is the later, I know it's time to make a change.