As many times I’ve thought about this question (at least 100,000 times), and as many times as I’ve come up with answers that felt reasonable… the truth is… I don’t know. I’m not sure.
Mythologies, religions, and personal experiences color each of our imaginations as we search for our existential identities, purpose, and meaning. When the surface level of life becomes dull enough, we dive deep into the oceans of our subconscious, squinting through dark waters for hints, guesses, clues… and while we occasionally find what seems to be a treasure trove of gold, it still seems we end up returning to the surface gasping for air.
Perhaps this is the kind of question that’s too big for our heads to hold, or our mouths to speak.
Let’s take a look at what some other minds have to say on the subject?
“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue.
Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”Rainer Maria Rilke
“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.” – Gandalf via J.R.R. Tolkien
“Progress consists only in the greater clarification of answers to the basic questions of life. The truth is always accessible to a man. It can’t be otherwise, because a man’s soul is a divine spark, the truth itself. It’s only a matter of removing from this divine spark (the truth) everything that obscures it. Progress consists, not in the increase of truth, but in freeing it from its wrappings. The truth is obtained like gold, not by letting it grow bigger, but by washing off from it everything that isn’t gold.”Leo Tolstoy
“For most of us, there is only the unattended
The wild thyme unseen, or the winter lightning
Or the waterfall, or music heard so deeply
That it is not heard at all, but you are the music
While the music lasts. These are only hints and guesses
Is prayer, observance, discipline, thought and action.
The hint half guessed, the gift half understood, is Incarnation.”
–TS Eliot (see more)
“One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
their bad advice-
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations-
though their melancholy
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice,
which you slowly recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper\
into the world,
determined to save
the only life you could save.”
—by Mary Oliver