This is Part 1 of Bliss & Struggle blog series. You can visit the series home page for the full table of contents.

To quote from Whitman, 'O me! O life!... of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless... of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?' Answer. That you are here — that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?

John Keating (Robin Williams)Dead Poets Society

A life with purpose

A common aspect among humans1 is the search or want of purpose. We are able to reflect on our existence, and thus we wonder about its meaning; OUR meaning: Who am I? Why am I here queuing for the bus? Where the fuck am I going?…

Moreover, purpose is immediately connected to our vision of the future: it’s something that we want to do, achieve or become. As a result, the purpose of life would seem like an ideal candidate to become the universal attribute that lets us decide whether we should aim for change or not. In other words, if we could identify a humanly universal life purpose… it would be a breeze to benchmark the way our world works! The thing is… identifying a human universal life purpose… it’s not going to be easy.

Problem #1: Does life have a purpose?

Let’s get it out of the way: Life has no purpose. At least not a default, naturally emerging purpose. Now, you might agree or disagree with this statement; either way it’s fine. Because it’s not the aim of this post to argue my position on this regard2, but to present the possibility of other humans thinking like me. This puts us in a pickle. If we cannot even all agree that life has a purpose… how the fuck are we going to find out a universal purpose for all humans?

One solution to that problem, would be to argue that even if life had no intrinsic purpose, we could (as humans) assign it one. So it’s not whether life has a predetermined purpose or not, it’s about whether we humans generally seek/require/want a purpose.

And that’s fair enough, and something I can stand behind. In fact, I think we could safely assume that everyone would generally agree that we humans would prefer to live a life that either has a predetermined purpose (if you are into mysticism) or a life in which we can set/find/choose one for ourselves.Humans thrive in meaning and wither in insignificance. Click To TweetBut let’s not pop the champagne yet because this brings us to a second problem…

Problem #2: It’s my life – A life purpose driven

If some of us decide our own life purpose… then wouldn’t we naturally end up with as many different life purposes as people assigning them? After all, we are all human, but we are also incredibly diverse. We have different upbringings, circumstances, ideas, hopes and dreams… How can we all share a specific life purpose when we probably have conflicting ones?

Tim Gunn life purpose driven

This seems like a big problem, but it isn’t so. This is connected to something I like to call the trap of the limited self, a problem that arises from a framework of understanding of the Self that is incredibly narrow. However, I won’t go into details about what I mean with that in this post3. Which is OK; we don’t even need that to get around this issue.

So what do we need?

Let’s do a recap:

We need something that doesn’t require us to convince anyone else that what we say makes sense. We cannot just say:
“The purpose of life is to prove ourselves to an omnipotent God, so IT can decide whether we are fit to spend eternity singing songs flying half-naked around the clouds, or whether we should instead be assigned to an eternity of roasting (among many other more creative tortures) by horned-beings in the fire pits of hell.”

Rick and Morty life purpose

GIF By Rick & Morty

That would require something that it cannot be asked of everyone: faith4.

Likewise, I cannot present (my/the) truth and expect everyone to buy it right away either. There’s no point on me insisting that: “Life has no objectively-generated purpose.” Because even though proving the objective purposelessness of life wouldn’t require faith, it would require an equally painful and probably pointless discussion. No matter how solid the arguments and obvious the evidence… we wouldn’t be able to change everyone’s pre-conceived opinion, because isn’t faith precisely a “Fuck you very much reason, but No!”?

So, what we need is something functional, something that is equally valid for people who start with a conception of their life as guided by a “grand-purpose” beyond their control, as well as by individuals that believe that they are the ones that can choose to define their life’s purpose. Additionally, we need something that can resonate equally true regardless of the specific life purpose that any one person identifies or believes in.

Is that even possible? Yes it is! But there’s only a way: by being objectively subjective. In other words, we need something concrete enough to be widely understood and accepted, but undefined enough to be filled with meaning at the subjective level.

That is genious life purpose

Would that be cheating? Not really, let’s see how.

The search for a Universal drive

There’s generally two ways I can tackle the issue to find a universal objectively subjective truth that resonates across humans as something desirable in life.

I could approach it the snake oil salesman way (they go by other names too… guru, strategic consultants…). That would involve pointing out an ethereal and incredibly-meaningful-sounding aspect of our human condition, which is actually devoid of any meaning at all… And that would work (initially) because you would be the one fabricating the meaning. Fortunately (or unfortunately) that illusion wouldn’t last long, or at least, not for everyone, because at the end of the day, if it looks like shit and it smells like shit, someone eventually ought to realize that it is indeed shit. I’ve already pointed out that we cannot build a better future on bullshit, so this way is a no go.

Sponge Bob Bullshit

The second way I could approach this is radically the opposite, by finding the most incontestable form of human truth and see if that tells us something about the world we want to live in. Now, if you’ve been reading the Intro, you know by now that I’m an “all-is-relative” kind of guy. For me, nothing is more incontestable in human terms than the relativity of everything. That’s right I don’t believe in absolutes5 (human absolutes, that is).

The problem is that everything is relative is kind of the shittiest ground to build a common project for a better future. Moreover, a human project can only work if we are (practically) all on board and most of you will probably disagree with my views on the relativity of things. Luckily, there is something else that unites us all, every single one of us, regardless of origin, color of skin, sexual orientation, beliefs, zeros on the bank account, political affinities, or preference in regards to pineapple as a pizza topping: DEATH.

Arya Game of Thrones Death

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