Often when one’s going through a tough time or a trying period in one’s life, one questions the reasons. Why we’re here and what we’re enduring it for. We look for meaning and reasons for the things that we don’t like- the fickleness of Lady Luck, the bad hands fate deals and above all for the reason bad things happen. Some of us turn to religion for meaning, for a purpose in life. Which, as far as I’m concerned is fine.
All of us look for a purpose, a meaning and a reason to the challenges and the pain life throws in our way. Some of us find it in religion, in belief in something greater than ourselves and find comfort in that belief. Others look for it in different places. Some look in the eyes of their children, their life’s work, or their lovers embrace. Some look for it in the act of living itself, others in a lifelong pursuit of meaning.
The fact is none of our paths to meaning are the same. Even within our denominations, our belief systems and our families- we each use a unique way to determine what we’re here for. Each system is perfect for the person it works for and imperfect for everyone else.
So, why, you ask am I writing this? Well, it’s quite simple. Sometimes one looks back on the road one’s walked, and wonders for a moment- why? Today, for whatever reason I’m looking back on a year and a half of medical school and asking myself- why did I do it? Free of any value judgement, why’d I make this decision?
The simple answer is I’m not quite sure. It just seemed like the path that (courtesy of Chance, Fate, Life, God, Zeus, the Flying Spaghetti Monster…) I needed to walk. So, I began the walk.
You see, I’m an existentialist at heart (I think). I seek meaning as I construct it for myself, and my meaning changes as I change. At the moment, my meaning of life seems to be surviving medical school with some vestige of my sanity, as well as continuing that lifelong search for meaning.
Existentialism holds a particular thrill for me- as a belief system its uniquely suited to the changes ones mind, beliefs and psyche goes through. As I’ve lived my short, short life, I’ve seen myself change a lot and perhaps even grow. The changes have been such that my definition of life, meaning and happiness have changed with me each time- but my essential path seems to fit the pattern. From Kierkergaards version of living life with passion and sincerity (authenticity) to Nietzsche’s discarded values and the search for oneself. The fact of the matter is that existentialism lends itself well to moulding around oneself, to providing a workable system as one continues to search for that ever elusive truth.
As a skeptic, something tells me at the end I’ll discover that the truth for which I search, that always missed meaning of life does not exist. The why’s and what for’s we utter about life are perhaps answered by George Mallory’s famous words- “Because its There”.