Time. Loneliness. Pain. Purpose.
Being human requires a purpose. Well, being a happy human requires it. Consciousness and self reflection, they make you need it. Without a purpose you have no reason to seek enjoyment, you become bored with life. Not everyone has this problem because some simply don’t have the opportunity to become bored. It’s something that only comes about from a certain level of privilege, specifically economic privilege. That doesn’t make it insignificant. All hurt is worth discussing and this one is alarmingly common in our society.
At a stripped down level we all have one purpose; avoiding pain. It’s the most basic purpose because it will come to you if nothing is done to prevent it (eg. starvation). No one wants to actually suffer either. Even a person who enjoys physical pain is deriving enjoyment from it. They are not suffering.
A subsistence human is always near that suffering, is always near pain and death. They can’t get away from that basic thing, it’s always a day away. Modern humans are far removed from this. The socialized humans have safety nets; they have family, they have welfare, they have charity. None of those last forever though. You may get depressed, lose your reason to go to work, then you lose your job. The safety net keeps you from starvation for a time. Family and charity won’t support you forever. The state may continue this indefinitely, but you must suffer in penance. You’re not supposed to enjoy life on welfare, you’re supposed to survive until you can “fix” your life.
Depression is a downward spiral. It saps your purpose, your will to want things to be better. Without that Will your life gets worse (or at best stagnates where it is), which only leads to more depression.
It self justifies.
So one must have purpose.
There’s an intense struggle in trying to find purpose without devoting your life to a person, some people, or a cause. Those are all perfectly fine things to make your purpose but they’re all external; they’re not intrinsically a part of you. People can leave, relationships change and then you’re left stranded with no direction. A purpose that will always be with you is far more reliable. Even an idea, like a religion or some other such ideology, they can leave you too. They can depart from who you are as a person; you can stop believing in it, lose your faith. What if you could find a goal that will always be a part of you, no matter what?
Contrary to what I may feel for myself, I think that devoting oneself to something external can be very admirable, even heroic at times. It’s not for me though. I want something more reliable, more internal.
My current solution is to work towards being the idea of myself I used to have. I strive to better myself in a very particular way, by contrasting myself with an idealized version of that self. I choose my activities to try to get to that goal, to become more like that person. This person isn’t a fixed point either. Like how stagnancy is something to be avoided in oneself, it is also something to be avoided in ones idealized self. He must remain ever changing. This ideal changes as the years go on. Meaning that I can never reach it, so the goal is inherently unattainable. Reaching one’s goals is dangerous because it leaves you in a state between goals, with no purpose in life.
And back into that downward spiral.
Seeking this ideal is what I’ve chosen as my purpose but it’s by no means the only sensible goal. Anyone care to share their purpose in the comments?