I wrote this a little under 2 years ago when I was attempting graduate school applications. I feel that “purpose” is something I still think about, but I am happy to say that it doesn’t cause nearly as much anxiety. From time to time I am overwhelmed with anxieties of the future, but letting go is getting easier.
Upon writing a “statement of academic purpose”, I find myself drifting in and out of my own statements of general purpose. I keep grazing the borders of existential territory, as I so often do when I lay down to go to bed at night, only this time I am wide awake, heart racing anxiously.
Today as well as the day before, in between naughty and nice customers and pages to departments requesting price checks or nutritional information, I spent a lot of time at work inside my own head. I have realized that I normally do this. Although I engage in conversations with coworkers and the nicer group of customers, I am constantly lost inside myself, stumbling upon questions like, “what am I doing here?”, “why have I made the choices I have; ethically as well as emotionally?”, “how do I leave behind the worry of future loss and failure, and replace this worry with constant reminders of current possibilities, endless opportunities, and mere happiness?”
I don’t think that there is anything wrong with this, other than when anxiety dominates these thoughts, like now.
My room is lit the way it always is; two lamps and the light from my laptop. It was feeling like a sauna in here earlier because of our dryer and so I opened a window. The smell of cheap Korean dishes fills the room, mingling with the aroma of a red-smelling candle. If the colour red had a smell, I think you would know what smells I am associating with it.
I’m staring straight ahead into my closet, where I keep clothes, scarves, music, towels, and a nightstand. Every once in a while, I zone out and can make shadows with my eyes. Deep in thought, I think about “purpose.” I think about life and all it’s given and taken. Has life given and taken? Perhaps not. Perhaps nothing has been given or taken, and I am just going through the course of life without purpose without giving, receiving, experiencing. Sometimes, it feels this way. Other times, it feels like I am radiant and strong, beaming with a life full of experience, ready to endure the rest of this adventure. At some of my best moments, I am ready to endure this adventure with someone else; someone dear to me who is apart of this remembered purpose.
But as I stumble into darker shadows (after staring into the closet for longer than normal), I drift into a state of numbness towards surroundings and thoughts that pass by. Not so much impermanence, but the possibility of loss and painful encounters—all because of this force that drives purpose. For if we had no purpose at all, no desire, no inkling of an urge to be happy and purposeful, would we hurt at all? Would loss be as painful as it is? And if that’s the case, is it better to suffer misfortune and loss than to have not lived with a purpose at all? If there is no need for fulfillment, is there then no suffering?