Why do I exist? This is the question that I have grappled with for decades. Early on, I knew that there must be some higher purpose for my existence. In my teen years, I embraced easy and trite answers that others told me were true.
But these simple answers to my life purpose never seemed complete and left me wanting a much fuller explanation. Over the five decades since I have toyed with many explanations before settling on the one you will read about here. After actively seeking for the meaning of life I believe that I now understand some truths well enough to share with others.
The is a record of my journey of personal understanding. It is a long time in the making. I started my journey seeking enlightenment at age 13, and at age 60 finally had the breakthrough that I had been seeking most of my life.
To truly understand this journey I will tell a series of stories from places I've been and people that I met along the way. Each of these stories taught me something about the mysteries of life and shaped my thinking in important ways. It can be said that we are largely the products of the experiences that we have had and the meaning that we assign to them.
One key understanding I've developed is that life happens in a series of seasons. Each season has its own unique challenges and joys. Each season of life offers its own goals and objectives that must be fulfilled. Success in each season does not look much like that of the adjacent seasons.
Each life stage comes with its own quest. Success in Youth has little relationship to success in the Young Adult phase of life. The primary quest during Old Age does not much resemble the objectives of Mid-life. This means that the meaning of life changes with each life stage that you experience.
To verify that this is true reflect on your own life experience. Think about the fundamental questions of meaning that drove your life when you were young. Think about how different your life is today. The quest that drove you then has little bearing on how you feel today.
A second key understanding that I've developed is that fulfillment has several dimensions. In order to feel successful it is the combination of success in different areas of life. Some people succeed in family life while having little success at work. It also happens in reverse. But for me to be fulfilled I must have meaningful work and meaningful relationships. In addition I must be constantly growing as a person and having fun while doing it.
Success is making the most of what you are given. Fulfillment requires being successful at all of the major areas of life. For the last ten years I have organized my life objectives into four main areas. Each of these areas required concerted effort to development them in healthy ways. Failing in one of these areas means that I will have failed in my life as a whole.
The world existed long before me, and I hope that it will exist long after I am gone. I am here for a time to live out my destiny among others that are also trying to live out their hopes and dreams.
I was born into specific circumstances and these details act as constraints on what I can do in my life. Consider the impact of the following details for your life. Think about the natural constraints that they impose on your life opportunities.
The context of our birth largely defines the life that we can live. We make choices to develop our live along certain paths but these choices are severely limited by the circumstances of our birth. I grew up as a male boomer in the US born to middle class protestant parents. This gave me a very different life than someone who was born as a Jordanian woman in 1939 or a Congolese man in 1900. Our lives would be nothing alike.
Because our choices are limited by things outside our control we know that the more different the circumstances are between two people the more different their lives will be. But when considering people with very similar life circumstances there is a huge difference in life paths based on the choices that people make. Life choices can make a profound difference but are still a second-order effect.
I believe in destiny. But not like some do - as some sort of pre-destined fate. Life is like a game of chess. There are many moves that are possible, but most moves don't make any sense. A beginner will often make bad moves and quickly lose the game. A Grand Master will only play moves that are consistent with the successful outcome of the game. My understanding of destiny is much more like this. Walking out your destiny is playing the best moves possible, given the constraints.
Two different people will always have different constraints limiting their movements. So they will naturally produce differing outcomes while each fulfilling their destiny. I believe that Destiny is the Game of Life well played! Let it be said of my life that I made the most of what I was given.
Success in life does not require that you succeed in everything you do. It is more related to how well you played the game.