⌜ THE ULTIMATE QUESTION ⌟ [ English / 中文 ]

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

English Version中文版

Some crazy things happened during summer. When someone passes on, it kind of changes you and things that mattered before suddenly don't. Here's what I learnt about what's really important in life while traveling the world many times over. 

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Over the last few years, the opportunity to travel the world means I get to meet all sorts of interesting and celebrated people. From successful businesspeople, producers and famous performers, all the way to people who told me they had been left behind.

Despite our situations, the common denominator was that we were all on separate pathways to find that ever-elusive place of complete soulful happiness. Along all these journeys, I found some common themes:

In Bangkok at 6AM just after new year, he cried and told me he was waiting for the soul mate that would finally help him live a life full of happiness in love. I couldn't be that for him.

And over some eventful summers in Asia, I got to know many affluent moguls who had achieved all the success and possessed the most lavish luxuries one could dream of. They smiled a lot and were so generous but I always saw a look in them that told me they were going through exactly the same thing we all were.

Then, there are the group in my life who are in pursuit of as many unique experiences as possible. One day, we hope the parties had, countries explored and experiences collected will fill the measure of our memories to the brim so we can try to convince ourselves that “we have lived”.

Finally ... there is the one who left us too early. "I am so sad you passed away this summer." Since then, I suffer a chronic existential angst. It hurts and is the most haunting and awakening feeling - like I am soul stricken and completely feel myself in 3rd person with an intense emotional realization of my mortality (it's not that I didn't know it before but I never truly felt it).

Love.
Success.
Experience.
Death.
Existing.


In stringing our stories together, I found that our lives culminated to an ultimate life question:

Have I Really Truly Lived?
This is about living in such a way that we can savor in the great satisfaction that we have fulfilled an important destiny with the limited time we have.

Does this life include the ultimate success, affluence, power, relationships, family, fitness, social contribution, legacy or collection of experiences? I realized a lot of people are still figuring that out. However, what is certain is that we are constantly asking ourselves - have I tried everything I've wanted so that I can honestly feel that I have really lived and positively impacted the world as much as I could have?

If the answer is yes, we can live in peace. If the answer is no, we will live in regret.

This is our own self measure on everything we have gained, given and our position in the world. Only we ourselves know the deepest nuances. That is why someone who appears to have everything could actually have nothing at all.

But ... there seems to be a big problem with this ultimate question if we look at the modern body of evidence. I mean why do many who seem to have truly lived, with immense fame and success, remain disillusioned with their lives - people like Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. Cher, one of the longest living entertainers in history says, "I did and achieved everything I ever dreamed of ... and more, and it gets boring."

This is because achieving goals only feels golden for a moment, while materialism and affluence in themselves do not enrich the soul. And when someone you know passes on, you realise none of those things really matter. They are all smoke and mirrors.

I also got into the habit like many of continually chasing the next best experience. But it's like I always try to pretend that that sickly and dreaded come-down after a good party won't come, but it does. You can always look forward to the next party, but that party always finishes too.

After all this, I thought if having and experiencing it all doesn't satisfy in the long run, what more could there really be to life then?

Do I Have Peace and Purpose in my Mortality?
I believe this is the real ultimate question of life, and I have been asking myself this everyday since summer. The answer I have found is the ultimate type of soulful happiness made up of:
  1. Contentment in emptiness
  2. Peace and higher purpose given the temporariness of life
The first component is the unshakable contentment of simply being. It is a mindful gratitude that survives even during the dullest moments of life. It's not that the intention is to live a dull life - it's the appreciation of the quiet glory of everyday life with a recognition that life uncontrollably inclines itself toward moments of emptiness.

The second component is peace with, and higher purpose given, the temporariness of life. We shouldn't be afraid of our own mortality - we should own it:
  • What is my purpose in light of death and the afterlife? (should you believe in that)
  • Have I tried my absolute best to find right answers? Or am I okay to face this inevitable reality when it comes?
  • Is anything eternal? Does it matter to leave a legacy then? Or do I just want to have fun for now?
There are three mutually exclusive outcomes of this self-analysis: hope, hopelessness or unconcern. Ultimately, these thoughts matter because our time is limited and we cannot change that. These questions aren't necessarily marketable or fun, which is why society is built to avoid it, but they are reality - the party always finishes.

I am writing these things in the spirit of love because I want everyone to know we are on the same journey and that the most prevalent yet hidden root of modern day sadness is an inability to reckon with both one's own mortality and the mortality of our loved ones.

The Plan Now
I have found working toward my existential certainty to be the main thing that has healed my loneliness and depression. Yet, though for moments I have mindful gratitude, I also feel chained to wanting to experience, enjoy and achieve so much right now, but I am trying to teach myself that these things don't matter.

I am also working on hope in death and purpose through a relationship with God, which I know is so uncool these days, and even after the church cast me out for my sexuality. This is my own way to do it and you are free to find yours.

My ultimate goal is to one day relinquish seeking success, wealth and experience, in order to live a quiet life with the purpose of helping others think about the bigger picture in life. I am still on the way there but trying to get there as quickly as possible.

What is your plan?

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7 comments

  1. this is ur best article to date

    ReplyDelete
  2. im sorry 2 hear that happened to your friend:(

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And we all think the same thing. But we are trying to be thankful and also learn from it.

      Delete
  3. i donot want to think about those things now

    ReplyDelete
  4. You obviously not taking enough drugs yet. Load up!! ����

    ReplyDelete

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