This morning, while walking with one of my friends, she asked me, “What is the purpose of life?”
“I remember once in high school,” she continued, “I joined one extracurricular activity in martial arts. On one day of reflection, my guru asked to us, ‘what is the purpose of our life?’ Every student can only keep silent and my guru continued, ‘I think the purpose of life is just to die.’”
And I asked her what happened next and she said “Nothing. The discussion ended and then we continued our training as usual. I never know such a question can stay in my mind this long especially when you start questioning everything in your life.”
I asked her back, “so what is the purpose of your life?”
“I cannot say he is (the guru) wrong though. As I reflect further, every human being is born just to die. I only believe two things in this world: uncertainty and human’s death and I think he is right at some point. You were born to die and then why you have to be born? And having been born, what is the purpose of you in this world?”
We just agree at some point that we were born to die, the purpose of life is then: to die.
While we were walking our way down the path, we realized one thing: nothingness in this modern era or probably with us who can only think about dying as the only answer for the purpose of life. By knowing nothing what is the purpose of our life, we basically have gone into a nothingness. Religious people might say that the purpose of their life is to serve God and to obtain an eternal life after their death. A very good ethical person might say that the purpose of her life is to cultivate her virtue regardless of what others think about it. A rational person could say that the purpose of his life is to be constantly curious about things and thirst for knowledge. A philosopher might say that they live to cultivate and bring wisdom to the world. While all these people can satisfactorily answer their purpose of life, my friend then does not know what is the purpose of his life and we just ended up one answer: to die.
When philosophers in enlightenment era tried to kill gods, especially Nietzsche, they probably thought about celebrating the human beings as they are: as a free being who does not have any value at all. The human beings without having something to rely on since the death of gods will start a new era when human beings no longer need an omnipotent creature to be afraid of and by so, they have just have to sail the sea of life. But is this kind of thing actually involves adventurous and bravery, some values that has to be cultivated? Does it mean the purpose of life is the cultivation of bravery to face the sea of life? But in this case, the life itself is not free from value since we are actually trying to cultivate a bravery ethic in life. And thus we are just creating new gods while at the same time we have to pronounce the death of them. And then we think and discuss again: when we killed gods, have we really tried to make new gods? If not, is it true that this is just the beginning of nothingness that my friend was feeling, the nothingness that is left from killing gods, values or anything which human beings can previously rely on?
As we discussed and walked further, we still could not find a satisfactory answer for this nothingness and emptiness. It does seem that the answer is somewhat subjective, depending upon what a particular person is really aiming at and only by starting from that point could we derive the values that we would like to adhere.
“But it does contradict my mind that says that there must be a universal value, like why you are not allowed to kill a person out of nothing? Why we, at some point, always have a feeling that we are bound by a universal value like that killing? Does it mean that we can actually achieve a simple conclusion to this meaning of life that everyone can agree?”
“You remind me with Kant,” I said to her, “But if we start from the beginning, we are complaining about nothingness and emptiness. Why we should be bothered with universal value then?”
“Because if we can find it, then everyone should aim for that and thus destroying the nothingness and emptiness. We are still going to die for sure but at least we are not going to die in emptiness,” she answered.
As we were about to have a separate direction, she showed me a sunshine coming out from the horizon.
“I do not know yet,” she said to me, “I still live to die, but I want to enjoy every sunshine”.”
Then we moved to our own path…..
One day if a person asks when you are going to get married or why you are not interested in marriage, you probably can answer like Alain de Botton answers the question about how advertisement always ignores our psychological attribute that tends to go down sharply once we own the good: you probably just do not want to stop loving them and want to always keep that burning love sensation
“The quickest way to stop noticing something may be to buy it – just as the quickest way to stop appreciating a person may be to marry them.” – Alain de Botton on Status Anxiety
Where are you heading to Mute Swan?
Nowhere, just sailing towards sunset
and she turned back calmly, sailing towards sunset
Last week was the peak of the holiday season here in London and I met a gorgeous lady whom I regarded as a stranger before. We just met out of nowhere and we talked a lot on a day. But that particular day is quite special that I would like to always remember. She invited me over a coffee and then started to talk seriously about her problem, which I could not consider simple. We ended up talking about toxic parent and I let her talk while I just kept listening to her.
“I am desperately tired of finding someone who is able to just listen and not judging,” she opened up the conversation. And I humbly asked what her problem is.
She started to complain about her negative things that came continuously to her, making her to feel out of breath. She complained about her research study and her desperation for always having a negative result while not having enough support or finding someone to really help her.
“In particular,” she said, “I am also exhausted about my family.” She then said about how toxic her parents is since she never really feels that her parents really support her. “It is only about lip service. My mother always says she prays for me while I never think she really does from what she always does to me. Everytime I complained about my life, seeking for a comfort from a family, while I always get back from her is always something negative in return. Until a point yesterday where she just gave me a negative news happened to my family a month ago which she could have been said it to me on that day rather than waiting for me saying to her that I am burnt out with my stuffs. It just supports my assumption that my parents are really toxic, they just never support what I love to do since I was a teenager although they knew there was nothing wrong with it. I even regard them to be over protective. And now while I am pursuing my degree and nothing wrong with it, it still seems to be the same way”
I started to understand her situation. It does seem that she is really tired with her stuffs and she could not rely on her family. She feels the family only brings her confusion. Family is supposed to be the first point where she finds love and comfort. She probably feels it to some extent but when it turns out to be doing what she loves, the family starts to be a real obstacle, and her parents in particular. She said that she expects her family to support her but it always turns the other way around.
We then started to do a bit of research about the feeling of this hatred feeling against parent and we ended up talking about toxic parents. In short, toxic parents are parents who can only think about themselves and expect their kids to not upset them. I think the situation resembles quite well with my friend’s situation. Her parents always expect her to make them happy while not the other way around. She told me that everytime she thought that she made her parents upset, it would end up in a passive aggression way. It usually ended up where she did not talk for days with her parents until a point where everything blew up and went out of control and she even sometimes run out of her home just to run away from it. This passive aggression is also one indication of a toxic parent since a good parenting should involve active communication. Also, one day she told me that she had a boyfriend and although there was nothing wrong with her boyfriend, her mother just asked her to break up with him just because she did not like him. She feels that her parents, in particular her mother, are just so toxic and really want to get an absolute control of her.
I then said to her that I could understand her situation but I could not help much since I do not have any right to talk to her parents. I just said to her, “Sometimes I think that we are here right now because our parents decided at the beginning to get married and to have kids. And then it is their duty to make us happy and not the other way around. Because, we never really ask before that we should be born from them or in this way right?” She just kept silent and smiled, “But you cannot change that fate once you are born.” And I replied, “So just let’s change what we can change.”
And after we finished the coffee, I just took her to Oxford Street, lending her my camera so she could enjoy the lights and took some beautiful picture and also lending my music player while it was playing Coldplays’s Christmas Light.
Those Christmas lights
Light up the street
Down where the sea and city meet
May all your troubles soon be gone
Oh Christmas lights keep shining on
And now the festive season has ended and I do hope she feels better now…