I was precisely ten years old when I started pondering about the meaning of life. The very thought of it made me wonder what on earth were we all doing here? What good is living anyway if someday you would eventually die? Why is living so synonymous with dying? How does one reconcile this paradox of life? I mean, how can I possibly really live a life that I will eventually have to give up-lose? To me, the whole idea of life was just too complex for anyone to really understand. It seemed like one big web in which all of us are trapped and are endlessly struggling to get out from. The painful part is that sometimes we end up being strangled by the very web that has been holding us down. Life seemed like an endless journey too wide for anyone to cover within the allotted time. It seems in the end that we always run out of time. Since there is so much to be done, we are caught up in the struggle of life, consistently trying to do all that we can within the given space of time.
Then what is the joy of being here if we are not allowed enough time to do all that we want? In my own opinion, I could see a beginning and an end; the time of our birth, when we were born, and the time of our death, when we die. What I didn’t quite understand were the moments in between, the moments between our birth and our death-the moments of life. So I committed to understanding the real meaning of life, my lifetime goal. But, deep down within me, I knew there was something deeper. There had to be some explanation, a reason for life; one other than just living and dying-a reason other than mere existence.
The challenge was this; what more is there to life other than just living and dying existence? As I grew, I discovered I wasn’t the only one with this challenge. Many others like me were equally battling with this paradox of life-existence, merely living and dying. It was now evident; life truly is complex. It is complex in the sense that it requires a lot of things from us. Once you have life, sooner or later, you will discover the painful truth about life. Which is; that having a life means existence-being alive and to be alive requires survival-staying alive. This need for survival has been genetically encoded into our very being. It’s a natural inclination to want to survive-stay alive. And staying alive (survival), as we’ve come to know, is hard work! As I discovered with many over the years while studying and pondering over this subject, the problem is not whether they want to survive, but rather whether they desire more from life than mere survival.
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Let’s face it; life is one heck of a thing! Pardon my tone, but seriously, who cares about life anyway? Isn’t it damn too demanding? In my opinion, living is much harder than dying. I mean, it takes only a few seconds to die, but it takes a whole lot more to live. In fact, it takes an entire lifetime to make a life. Why? Because the skills needed to live takes a lifetime to learn. Unlike the school system, whereas a student, you get the lessons first before you are given the test, life operates the other way round. In life, you get the test first and learn the lessons afterward. This is where the problem arises because as long as you are alive, there’s just too much you have to put up with. Little wonder, many, when they can’t stand the heat any longer, take the easier path-suicide. For them, that seemed to be the only way out; rather than confronting the challenges of life; they choose to opt out. The truth of the matter is that life is not fair whether we choose to believe it or not! The earlier we accept this, the better for us all. Life is not only for pleasure (fun and enjoyment); it is also for nurture (growth and development). And when nurture rather than pleasure is the objective, the rules of the game have to change. Our focus must shift from existence (a life of ease) to significance (a life of increase) (significance).
In today’s fast-paced world, so much has been misappropriated in the quest for survival. Everyone is on the fast track; the very essence of life is gradually dwindling off the minds of many. In a rush to meet up with the daily demands of our personal, social and corporate lives, so much has been exchanged for life in its true sense. As a result, life and its real meaning are unclear to many; material possessions, personal accomplishments, the setting, and achievements of goals all tend to becloud why we are here in the first place. This is the essence of this material, to examine our day-to-day activities, our motives and ask ourselves this; are we just here to make a living, or are we here to make a living?
Take a minute out of your busy schedule for the day and ponder these questions; on what platform am I really building my life? Is it on the things that external factors, like the media, our peers, our parents, or even the society as a whole, have conditioned us to believe really matters, or those we know deep within us are what matters? If you drop dead today, of what good would be the breath you had in you all these years? Of what value would be your life? If your life was weighed on some scale, of what value would your existence be? What would be the worth of your life? Would it be equal to the things you want, have, or desire? Would it be equal to those things that would outlive you? Success, fame, power, money, material possessions, are these all there is to life? To answer these questions, you must be willing to sit down and weigh your life. Before you can accurately weigh your life, we all must understand what life truly means.
WHAT THEN IS LIFE?
Over the years, people from different works of life have given life various definitions. Phrases like these; life is fun, life is a journey/adventure, life is a race, and life is what I make of it are quite familiar to our ears. The problem with these phrases is that people tend to make it the focus of their existence; they make it the center of their lives. While these claims of life may not be outrightly dis-annulled, it’s paramount I talk on them for proper comprehension so that individually, we can draw up a better understanding of each.
Life as Fun: Life in this context is viewed as pleasure; people with this mindset centralize the whole of their living on getting pleasures from life. Nothing seems to be more important in life than having fun, from constant vacations, going to the movies, relaxations, partying, and everything that ultimately gives them pleasure. They tend to be lackadaisical in everything they do; since life is all about fun, there is no need to be serious-minded. They tend to be restless too because there is no lasting fulfillment in pleasure; it’s only temporary; people with this view of life are always searching for something new to do that will give them a higher degree of pleasure or fun. Their aim in life is to enjoy all there is while alive and die having lived life to its “fullest.”