Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Point

When I was in high school, one of my friends and I had a lengthy conversation about not the meaning of life per se, but rather the structure of it, specifically in relation to hard work. We were both the type of kid who worked hard in school and one day realized we weren't really sure why. I think it was worse for him, because a lot of the activities he did were things he wasn't sure he really liked -- they were just the things he thought he was supposed to do; I, on the other hand, tended to avoid the Academic Decathlon/Mock Trial type stuff, doing mainly things I enjoyed, at least extracurricularly, so the "why" question felt less urgent.

So, we had this conversation and concluded that you worked hard in high school in order to get into a good college, and worked hard in college to get into a good grad school, and worked hard in grad school to get a good job. And when you got a good job, you worked hard for a lot of years so you could get promoted to a better job, which continued until you retired. And then you could do what you really wanted, since you never really did before. During the work years, when you felt like your growth was stagnating, you had kids, which got the next generation started along the same path, evaluating their accomplishments against the standards you set for yourself. And when they hit that point you hit, where they no longer felt satisfied at their own accomplishments, they had kids, and you went through the same cycle as a grandparent. Somehow I recall that this whole thing involved the segmenting of lives into 9 year chunks, though that part of our conversation eludes me now. And it's decidedly possible we were drinking at the time.

At 16 or so, when we had this conversation, I concluded that there was no way this was really what it was all about, that I was just a kid, experiencing some form of teenage angst and that it would, in fact, with time, pass. The problem is that I'm 30, and while the angst is gone, the underlying question still occasionally creeps back up, mainly during those times I let my head dominate my heart, allowing intellect to rule over emotion. So I will toss the question to you. Why do you do it? What's the source of your sense of purpose? What gets you out of bed in the morning? I have my own thoughts and motivations in my own life, but am curious about yours.


TimothyTang said...

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Many people feel that the interpretation to The Meaning of Life question is too subjective to have any definite objective answer but I have managed to formulate a real and objective answer based on facts to the ultimate question of human existence.

The book also sheds light on a new understanding of emotions such as Anger, Desire, Fear, Guilt, Temptation and Love.

I have made a blog that introduces the book. Do check it out.

Katie said...

I am still wondering what I want to be when I grow up. I always thought a mom, first and foremost, and still hope that will be the case.