Saturday, October 11, 2008

Meaningful Living

So what is purpose of existence? To fill one's existence with purpose.

I'm not kidding. I really believe that.

For the last 15 years sailing and "seasteading" have been the means for me to achieve that goal for myself, and certainly the lifestyle was an apt vehicle for purposeful living. Through the period, for myself, as skills increased the act of sailing gradually became less and less important to me than the symbolic meaning the act suggested. In few other activities is hope or freedom of the human spirit expressed as viscerally as is in the act of a sailboat leaving harbor. I was very aware of this process especially during the last few years of sailing "Macha," as the boat itself was very near an archetype, and in the act of launching and sailing that boat there was simply no way to evade the very personal knowledge that what I was fortunate enough to be doing was important, special, and meaningful. And not only to me, but to others as well. The most important skill I learned by sailing wasn't sailing. The most important thing I learned was how to keep my personal life embued with purpose.

As such, and as I've said before, I got into sailing in the first place as a means to find meaning in my existence. I understand purpose in living can be, at least for a lot of us, pretty illusive. But I've come to know it's not illusive because purpose is hard to find. It isn't. It's illusive because purpose is difficult to achieve--meaning that in order to get there, you will have to push yourself to the limits of your abilities, to that moment where you simply and quietly know--ok, that's as good as I can do. That's really all there is too it. If one is caught in the modern man's trap of existential pointlessness, as far as I can see there's really only one way out. Dream big, and do better. You have galactic karmic permission to have the audacity to take on whatever you need to do to find your purpose in existence. If you don't have the backbone to start, well, to yourself and to the rest of us as well, obviously you've got no purpose. If you've tried and got nowhere, you'll need to try again and do a better job. Maybe you'll never succeed, and you know this. Maybe the heroism of seeking purpose anyway while knowing you'll never find it is what will create purpose in your existence.

Right now, we as a culture really need people who will take up that heroic task of trying to find purpose in a world where it's going to be pretty difficult to find. We need to take this task on seriously and with integrity. Some might suggest a lot easier for romantics like myself to dabble with big archetypes such as sailboats to create a meaningful existence than it might hacking out a subsistence life eating millet in some poor village somewhere in the 3rd world. As such, in the future of scarcity we face some might suggest I'm a bit out of touch. Maybe, maybe not. Actually, I think not. It all depends on how one looks at the task at hand. Again, the key to a meaningful existence is simply doing what you do in a sincere manner and to the best of your ability--which will often need to mean with such success and excessive bounty that it has a measurable positive effect in one's environment and community.

In other words, it may prove most important to the survival of mankind that there remain a critical mass of those who, heroically, deliberately, get out of bed in the morning and go about their business cheerfully--in spite of the future we may soon face.

1 comment:

Colin said...

Thanks for the good post Jay