Eighteen-year-old Jay Singh trundled through the snow one cold winters day in his vain attempt to sell insurances door to door.
Cold, exasperated, and with a hole in the sole of his right shoe, he called his mother to ask her an all-important question.
‘Is this what life is all about?’
Frustrated at the futility of that moment, Jay awaited his mother’s reply as one thirstily awaits the wisdom of a prophet.
To his disappointment, his mother sighed deeply, but had no answer to his question.
Jay, now an adult who’s moved on substantially since that dark moment, gave me permission to share the snippet of his story, relayed this to me in our first coaching session. I listened, engrossed whilst awaiting the answer to the nail-biting question which has kept human beings awake for thousands of years.
After all, this question tends to be running in the background of our minds without us even realising, often reawakened when life throws the unexpected and we taste loss or failure. We spend years in therapy ruminating over it, going over the minutia of life and as an end to the hopelessness, seek deeper answers to affirm why we still choose to be here.
Why each morning we totter out of bed, mustering enough energy to discover what life has chosen to throw at us that day.
But what is life really about, at its very core?
We’re gifted this time on earth and are born into a family nucleus (whatever this looks like) given a name, certain character traits and as a bonus, given a certain je ne sais quoi that we spend our lives attempting to discover. As we navigate the bridge between life and death, we encounter a multitude of experiences good and bad, but the end destination is still the same for everyone.
No matter how many followers you have on social media.
So why is it not just enough to survive without seeking to discover a deeper layer?
There is something intrinsically within us that needs to understand why we should invest another second of being immersed in a game we don’t even understand. When we’re born, we become like the pieces placed on a chessboard, we don’t understand the game we’re about to play, let alone what our next move should be. The rules haven’t been explained yet we’re asked to live, procreate and die by a universal premise we are not that clear about.
So we spend our lives asking questions, in our feeble attempt to understand why life often doesn’t follow any set of rules or order.
For thousands of years, our ancestors have also attempted to discover the answer.
Religions and cults throughout generations have seduced their followers through this very premise, whilst promising the golden answer. In the olden days, the payback for understanding this was of a more spiritual nature, disciples were assured that discovering the answer would take them on a fast track to heaven.
In this day and age, success guru’s have taken on a similar position of authority. Not necessarily promising heaven, as this is no longer seductive enough for this generation. Instead, promising wealth, fame and success, which encourages followers to embark on a treasure hunt to desperately find their unique purpose, the ultimate goal. Once they find it, they will know why they were placed on this earth. Success, fame and happiness will follow.
The only thing this leads to is a huge expectation followed by a severe bout of disappointment.
I don’t believe any success guru currently has more of an answer to this question than I do.
Yet people are encouraged to exist by squeezing the life out of everything they do in a vain attempt to discover the answer to the deeper question.
I was recently speaking to a 90-year-old Holocaust survivor.
As a young girl in Poland, she asked herself ‘what life was all about’ when she was detained by the Nazi’s and her parents perished in the gas chambers. In the darkness that enveloped her life in the concentration camps, where she constantly balanced between life and death, she never found the answer.
Once the camps were liberated after the war ended, instead of waiting for the answer to be revealed, she created the meaning by which she lived.
If she was unable to find the answer after living through one of the most utterly despicable acts of the 20th century, what hope is there for us to find the answer, as we sit back in our comfortable homes enjoying the trappings of society.
The ones who offer more enlightenment are those who have died for a few seconds and in coming back to life, have tales of wisdom to impart. Anita Moorjani, the author of ‘Dying to be me’ died momentarily and was able to taste the afterlife, allowing her to return with a beautiful reflection on what she discovered about the meaning of life;
I saw my life intricately woven into everything I’d known so far. I began to understand that while I may have only been a thread, I was integral to the overall finished picture.
I learned that my only purpose in life is to be a full expression of myself. To love myself to the core of my being. And to share my heart and soul with the world without fear. I realised that the peace and love humankind craves resides inside each and every on of us, and we can access it anytime.
I discovered one of life’s greatest truths: Heaven is not a destination; it’s a state of being.
The answer is not out there but within you and therefore this means reframing the question.
Instead of asking ‘What is life about?’ ask ‘What am I about?’
Go within and listen carefully to the answer.
Are you tenacious, caring, lazy, compassionate, creative, domineering, controlling or fussy? There are multiplicious character traits, and you can find your own fit.
What do you personally regard as sacred, important, valuable or meaningful?
Perhaps it’s love, laughter, spirituality, friendships, relationships, peace, learning, experiences or travel.
What do You want life to be about?
You’re a masterful creator, since all human beings are, then go ahead and create the components you want in your life. Grasp the elements that bring the most meaning and dynamic energy, the places and things that make you feel the most alive. The universe won’t deliver that for you, this is up to you.
Allow the question to evolve as you transition through different stages of life as this will take a different form depending on which stage you’re in.
When we engage with life and slow down, we discover the meaning of each moment and what we are here to do gently becomes revealed.
Questions have a purpose, and we believe that they need an answer (often immediately), but at times we need to surrender to the idea that we don’t need to have all the answers to live a purposeful, meaningful life.
We then stop asking ‘What is life about?’ because life is both simple and complex simultaneously, and to expect the answer to such a global question is to elevate ourselves above human status. We then become desperately needy in our quest to find the answer and this prevents us from living life with ease, fun and serenity.
If this article resonated with you, check out my latest book Look Inside: Stop Seeking Start Living available on Amazon.
If you want to connect with me to share insights from this article, I would love to hear from you. Send a message via e-mail to [email protected]