Life purpose. What is my life’s purpose? Ah, the question that deludes us all.
I’ve always been curious, anxious, and eager to uncover life’s purpose – MY life’s purpose. Even as a child, I itched to do something to get my hands dirty. I wanted to make a difference. I went through a severe burnout last year, which led to me quitting my job (and having to find another one, harsh reality!). Then I hit upon the idea that I am living my life’s purpose simply by existing. Drawing and storytelling is part of my life: just like brushing my teeth is. It’s not a separate goal that I seek to chase. It’s not something I fear losing. Being who I am means that I will never stop creating in some form: by playing music, writing stories, drawing comics. By being who I am, I am fulfilling my life’s purpose.
Everything we do is motivated by some kind of external validation. But wouldn’t it be amazing if we lived our life’s purpose every day by embedding it into our core being? Imagine living life without the constant stress of having to find a purpose… because whatever you’re doing right now is your purpose. It could be working in a 9-5 job, having a side-hustle, working with a charity, quitting a job and experimenting with different things, or just being mostly harmless. “My life’s purpose is to be mostly harmless.” Surely that’s not a bad thing!
I was always searching, seeking, desperate to find something to throw myself into. I wanted an all-consuming purpose, a mission. But now I know that I’m doing exactly what I was meant to be doing. By living my life’s purpose, I defeat feelings of inadequacy. I fight the fear of loss, because I have something that can’t be taken away from me. It’s an incredibly empowering realization.
And we all know that at the end of it all life is pretty much meaningless anyway. We have unlimited freedom to create our own meaning and create the life we want. Finding a life purpose can be as simple or as complicated as we define it to be.
I’m always amazed by how a familiar (or unfamiliar) song can make me feel right at home. I seem to constantly find myself in music: an upbeat song playing in an auto-rickshaw in India, jazz melodies in a fancy restaurant in London, the quiet strumming of a lone busker, the cacophony of a pub at night. Sometimes I stop in the middle of a street to listen to music I can hear being played in the market or in a cafe, and I feel so full, it’s almost like fishing myself out of a sea of unknowns and giving myself an identity.
I’ve always dreamt of doing something heroic. I’m not even sure what that really means but I’m constantly chasing the idea that life has a Grand Scheme or Hidden Purpose that I’m yet to discover, and when I do, I’ll Change the World.
I’m now starting to realize this is possibly because of a keen sense of inadequacy that I’ve always had. The idea that I’m supposed to throw myself into some all-consuming mission also means that I consistently fail to meet my own expectations. Sometimes when I’m clearing weeds in the garden I come across earthworms, possibly one of my favourite creatures. (Also one of the cleanest to dissect in zoology lab haha.) Earthworms are beautiful unassuming little fellows, working away patiently, doing their thing, rarely making a public appearance, helping fields and flowers grow above ground, while they bury deeper. And I derive so much comfort from this: that maybe there’s no grand plan at all but just a collection of the little things we do. Maybe like earthworms, we can make our lives mean something by just doing our bit without worrying about the impact, by getting out of the way, and by being mostly harmless.
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