Human Purpose

Reading a recent comment from Keen Hiker on my blog this evening made me realise it’s been at least a month since I’ve thought too deeply about my greater purpose in life. No matter how much I deliberate on this topic, I’m still absolutely fascinated by the concept that life can be seen as completely frivolous or full of meaning, simply by the way we perceive it. It struck up some kind of strange epiphany as I started getting ready for bed, when I realised that maybe I’ve been looking at it all wrong. I’ve had a very singular focus on life’s purpose, assuming that everyone as individuals should have their own purpose for being alive. But perhaps that isn’t the case. Perhaps our purpose stems from working together as a race, to achieve something well beyond the realms of what a single human can achieve? I’m just throwing ideas out there, and maybe they’ve been expressed a gazillion times before, but I’ve never thought about it in this way.

Does an ant operating on instinct understand its greater purpose? Does any creature on this planet understand why they’re here and what they’re meant to achieve? Why should humans be any different? Despite our intelligence, we don’t seem to have a concrete answer. But these days we operate less on instinct, and more on what we’re taught to think and do. We operate within rules and limitations, suppressing our instincts, making choices based on opinions and the experience of those around us. If we did operate on instinct, what would we all be doing? Creating anarchy and killing one another to stay alive? Or would we have a clearer picture on what to achieve, doing whatever it is to live a prosperous and happy life?

Perhaps this is where indecision stems from. Being unable to distinguish between what we really want and what we think we should have. The world has transformed and developed so much that there’s simply so many options before us. And what comes with options? Indecision. And what comes with indecision? Inaction. Because it’s safer not to make any decisions rather than making the wrong ones, right? Maybe it would help if we understood what to base our decisions on.

I don’t feel as though school really prepared me for the ‘real world’, or that learning algebra, about World War II or the chemical properties of hydrogen really helped me answer what I want to do with my life. No teacher stood at the front of the classroom with a diagram explaining what we should strive to accomplish, providing a breakdown of options on how best to achieve this. They simply gave me a base level understanding of enough information to satisfactorily function within society. They exposed me to enough activities to inspire me to keep living, and then wiped their hands clean leaving the rest up to me. I understand that choosing what to do in life may fall within the category of a ‘First World Problem’, alongside cars breaking down, losing iPhones or buying decaf coffee by mistake. But for me it’s a very legitimate question, and one I don’t think we’re encouraged to find answers to, while studying to become doctors, lawyers or electricians.

Touching again on my earlier concept of a collaborative purpose, if there was a coordinated effort across the planet in which everyone played a part in the bigger picture, how would it look? Like a giant anthill covering the globe with humans scurrying all over the place, working towards a common goal? Would we eradicate hunger, live less introspectively and focus on the good of each other? Or would we simply live to feed the Queen, while trying our best not to squash one another?

There doesn’t seem to be a solid answer to the greater purpose of human existence, nor anyone judging us on our decisions (depending on what you believe). So it’s a pretty sweet deal really. We’re all off the hook! Free to do whatever we choose, limited only by what we decide. So why aren’t we all out there doing the things that we love? Is it because we don’t know what we want, or because we’re too busy complaining about the lack of time we have because of work, or the fact we can’t afford to get away because of that giant mortgage looming over our heads?

I guess it helps to be reminded that despite what our purpose is, we’re all in control of our destiny. If you don’t like your job, change it. If you can’t afford the lifestyle you’ve chosen, adapt. If your friends don’t have the same interests as you, find new ones that do. It took me a long time to learn (and it’s an ongoing process) how to drill into the core of what makes me happy, trust in my instincts and actually follow them. It’s taken me even longer to realise that when my objectives benefit others in some way, I live a much more meaningful and enjoyable existence. And when we enjoy the life we’re living, it’s a lot easier to focus on making positive contributions to other people’s lives.

So yes, once again I guess it all comes back to striving for happiness. And whether we like it or not, happiness is to a large extent a choice. Despite all the decisions that may cloud our judgement, throw us on a detour or completely off the rails, we need to think back to the basic principles of what makes us happy, and steer those elusive reins back in that direction.

IMG_3006_endless trail

20 thoughts on “Human Purpose”

  1. The difference between an ant and us is that we think about our purpose in life. We can make moral choices and know right from wrong. We can do good, which is in it own concept shows something deeper than just instinct, we can know both good and evil. Go deeper and see that you have choices that are more than finding happiness. What makes you happy? What is love, does it have an object, is it just feelings or is it an action of good which it goes back to what is good. So that is really the question we need to answer. What is good and am I willing to know and do it? I have found all these answers in knowing God and His Son Jesus. He is love, He is good, and He is Truth. Look at the world and you will find confusion, look to Jesus and you will peace and good.

    1. Hahaha yes Pac Man, sorry your agent mustn’t have passed on the message. I’ll give you even more credit if you actually read the whole article!

  2. Love is about giving. The more you give, the more you get. This has a direct affect on happiness and the intentions of our human condition. Unselfish purpose perpetuates the spirit. It’s the only thing that breaks Newtons Third law of motion: there is no equal and opposite reaction to this action. In my opinion, this is the purpose, this is ‘the grand experiment’.

    1. I’m currently taking a break from my schoolwork to watch Office Space. Ummm, yeah….cubicles kill creativity. Lol

  3. So beautifully expressed, dear girl….I listen to your voice and I hear you….I see you….and I think that you have spoken profound words, coming straight from who you are….I can only say that I am still working on that question…and little by little I see clearly that love wins….I am a composer of music..and so often wonder whether it is beautiful or not…(really a wonderful gift) and it took me many years to finally use that gift. (I was eleven years old when I composed my first piece of music…I was to go study at a Conservatory of Music….and even at that age, I didn’t know it was good or not….) So occasionally I would write a song..but I started again at age 58 when someone ask me to read a movie transcript…..and I got inspired to compose music for all the characters in that story…..then began to realize I couldn’t keep it all in my memory and needn’t to go back to school and learn how to correctly write it down….My purpose then became clear….to know how to put it on paper….I was 62 and I took all the classes and at age 66 I graduated with a degree…during those 4 years I composed close to 50 pieces and performed many concerts….

    I still compose and the music is getting better and better. I have had three concerts publically and had those recorded on CDs….I have many pieces that I composed that have never been heard before….

    So what does all of this mean about the reason for being….I think that now that I may not have many more years to be on this lovely planet, I feel that there still some more music “out there” to hear in my mind and put it on paper….

    Also, I have come to the place to know that love is my reason for being…
    so much in the way of our lives having meaning for ourselves and others is to love …

    So much to explore and am thankful to be available to explore….smiling

    I know that my head has so many thoughts at once when I read your thoughts that I really can’t express very well….so please accept my feeble try to truly answer such the profound questions.

    Love to you, Sweetie….from your old friend, Barbie

    1. Barbie the stories of your life are so inspiring. I wish I could read all of your thoughts and experiences on paper as well as your music. Some people hear great compositions in their minds but don’t know how to put them onto paper. Others have thoughts they struggle to express. The inspiration of your story is that it’s never too late to follow our dreams. Toss away fears of failure or being wrong, listen to your heart when it guides you towards the activities and people you love. It’s certainly easier said than done to live this way, but it’s never too late to steer ourselves back in the right direction. Thank you for sharing part of that wonderful mind of yours. I’m sure I’m not the only one who would love to hear your music someday!

  4. “It’s taken me even longer to realise that when my objectives benefit others in some way, I live a much more meaningful and enjoyable existence”…

    This is such a striking statement for me! I feel at times we do feel quenched, we do feel love in our soul, and so happy for what we have accomplished and risked to get! Yet, sometimes that fades, and we see others struggling, and think, that was me at one time, helping you is helping the me of months ago! Karma, forgiveness, balance, so many words, but we learn to help others cause we are no different then them. Fighting our own story, our own fears, and if we are blessed with good insight and advice, it is not to move away from that problem, but to give back, like the land gives to the animals and us. Our problem is a problem, and can be solved, and if we do solve it, others going through the same journey is so identical to us going through our own. By taking the risk to express ourselves and just be vulnerable (I think this is such a first step to courage!), we help others, cause we don’t SOLVE being vulnerable, we GROW to do so! That shredding all our clothes and saying this is my naked self, is helping other, no different then a writer shredding her ego and writing of love helps others! Its the presentation of our vulnerable self that challenges us as people, and that challenge is what all our heroes, idols, and story tellers fought! And with them fighting that, they created books, art, inspiration, and love! I love that you shared this and created a forum of beautiful dialogue and insight with all your comments! Thanks for the above statement which struck and touched me, and for inspiring us to be more vulnerable 🙂

    1. Thank you so much for sharing YOUR beautiful dialogue on this forum. I am always so overwhelmed by the thoughts and words of others that it continues to inspire me to put ideas out there. I’m going to have to read this comment over a few times to digest all of the wisdom inside your words. Thanks for having the courage to comment!

  5. The secret is that there is no one answer. Only you can discover the answers that fit with your life story and circumstance. How? One step at a time, just like you hiked the PCT. Find what you love and go deep. Keep it real, keep it simple, and over time you’ll no longer be a newbie on the trail of life: you’ll have some wisdom, grace, and extra know-how to share with the rest of us. There’s no shortcut, so don’t worry about it. With experience you’ll begin to see how some of the bigger pieces fit together, you’ll have gained skills you can apply to moving the larger pieces of the puzzle, and you’ll have met others who will want to join forces with your dream. Just keep your feet on the ground, keep taking long walks in the wilderness, and don’t forget to stop and smell the wet leaves on the autumn breeze, Good luck on your journey, it’s a beautiful world out there. -HMW

    1. Spoken beautifully like someone who has learned a thing or two on their own quest for a meaningful and joyful existence. I couldn’t agree more with the poetic words you have so eloquently shared. Everyday we add another piece to that life puzzle, and despite the fact we don’t always fit them in the correct place, all that matters is that we never stop trying to complete it. Thank you for filling my mind with such rich ideas and and a fresh perspective.

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