At a certain moment in their existence, each one duels with this existential question. It may take different forms: “Who am I?”, “What is my purpose?”, “What am I supposed to do with my life?” etc.
Despite their different forms, all those questions are all are about the same thing, the search for meaning.
Consciously or not, us, humans tend to see everything in terms of stories, even the Universe. We don’t see the Creation as a process but rather as an epic narrative, a duel between good and bad. Therefore, when we ask: “Who am I?” we actually ask what is my role in this narrative. Maybe you observed this, maybe not, but for humans is never enough just to be, no, “we have to do something”, “we have to become someone”.
Humans are meaning creators in a Universe without meaning.
Who am I? Where I came from? Where am I going?
Until now religion, tradition and culture offered us the answers to these fundamental questions. However, in the “Age of Information,” we are shown every day how little we actually know. I have no idea how 80% of the things I used daily function (my laptop for example-it’s magic as far as I am concerned). Given this fact, how am I supposed to know how life works?
Humans are bewitched by words and as a result, we see ourselves as something separate, as something special. Most of the time, in relation to everything else that is we pose as travellers (we came in this world so that in the end we can go either to Heaven or Hell), as orphans (Adam & Eve or we are the sons of stars) or as rulers (the gods made us to finish their work or made us sovereigns over the world).
We place ourselves outside the world as we are not part of it and most of the time we picture ourselves as problem fixers.
The greatest blasphemy these days is to tell someone that humans are nothing more than animals. Sure, maybe special, but still animals. Is it untrue? Our fragile egos are in pain when you say that there is no difference in meaning between a tree, a dog and you.
Let’s assume this hypothesis, that we are not different in any way from the rest of the Creation, that we are part of this complicated process beyond comprehension named Reality.
You need a well-behaved ego on one hand and a dose of humbleness. When you reach this point, the question “Who am I?” becomes frugal. It is obvious, “I am who I am” or better said, “I am”. It is the moment when you realise there was no “I” to begin with. What you think when you say “I” is something constant over time, but let me ask you: Are you, the pre the same as you used to be when you were in the first year of high school? Do you think you are the same as the boy/girl you were at 5? We mistakenly put equal between the body and the identity. We are and not the same person. This “I” is not something outside of the body but a sum of thoughts. And if you pay enough attention, your thoughts come and go and so is your “me-ness”.
What is the meaning of life? Sure you can create a story in your head or play a role game but most of the time this leads to anxiety. As far as I am concerned, the meaning of life is to be lived. How you do it is a matter of logistics called “Ethics” by some.
We are caught in our heads and we forget just to be, enjoy the present and fully lived in it. There is nothing outside of now. The future and the past are only in our imagination.
This realisation makes you ask: What is so important that you are willing to sacrifice the only thing you own really own, the present?
…answer this question and you may find your meaning if there is one be found…
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Maarten van Doorn is an amazing writer I strongly recommend reading his articles. I particularly loved this one: