What is life about? What is the purpose of life?
If you ask a religious person, they might tell you that their purpose in life is to “serve God” or they might tell you that whatever they’re doing is their given purpose from God and they’re living that out as some sort of testimony to him. I’m not talking about any particular religion, this is a sentiment that tends to link any given religious ideology to the next.
Me, I tend to think that life has whatever purpose you decide to attach–if you decide to attach a purpose at all. We’re here on this spinning blue speck, tumbling through space, an asteroid or a nuclear war away from extinction. So I live in the day-to-day. I don’t really see a grander “purpose”. I’m just here to enjoy life and the random experiences it brings.
I do the things that I enjoy and, in the process, try to live my life in such a way that I bring something positive (or at least don’t detract from) the world and the people around me.
“But, JV,” you may say with distress in your voice, “you don’t think you have a grander purpose? Isn’t that depressing?”
No. Not at all. I enjoy the moments. The here. The now. I ignore the ‘what ifs’ and the ‘maybe so’s’. That thought process isn’t a healthy mental state for me, personally.
Do you enjoy your car? Its grander purpose is that it’s going to end up in a junkyard somewhere. Dead and alone. It will no longer be yours. But you enjoy it now for what it is and what it does.
But at the end of the day, you gotta do what’s right for you. If you need some over arching plot to try to make sense of all the chaos, go for it, I say!
What’s my point?
Well, this year has been a year of self improvement. That’s what my life has been about.
In the interest of defying age, I decided to take up running. I’ve been a consistent weight lifter since I was 16, so all of this was totally new to me and it’s been very difficult. I also have what’s called mirtal valve prolapse…essentially, it’s a leaky heart valve. So it can make my heart feel like it skipping or it can make it go faster. I’ve had some instances of this in the past, so I always had a lot of anxiety about running long distances.
This year I decided to stare my anxiety down and start running long distance. It’s been fantastic. I feel great. Each run is me pushing my body to new limits.
Another thing I’ve done this year is mess around with my medications. I’ve increased some and cut others (under the supervision of my psychiatrist, of course). The worst one was Ambien. I’ve been on a higher dose for around 6 years straight. I was certain that if I ever came down I’d never sleep and would have to go in patient to get off of it.
Well, these past two weeks, I did it on my own. I cut my dose in half. I’m sleeping fine. It’s a huge deal for me. There was a lot of fear. There was psychological dependence. There was also, most likely, physical dependence. But I did it. I’m hoping, maybe next year, to go off of it entirely.
So yeah, that’s me. Living moment to moment. Finding the meaning in the moments. Living to challenge myself. To love my wife. To be a good friend. To be kind to the world around me. To constantly be learning. To leave a legacy through the written word.
No matter what your views on purpose or the meaning of life, I encourage you to practice mindfulness, to live in the moment and focus your mind, if only for a minute, on what you’re thinking, on your bodily sensations—there’s so much peace in it.
Anyway, here’s to self improvement.