You ever have one of those days where it all feels pointless? Why do I get out of bed? Why shower? Why get dressed? Why go to work? What is the point of my work? Why does it matter?
I realize on days like those that most of the time we’re on autopilot and just doing what we’re programmed to do. Get through the day. Don’t piss anyone off. Get some work done. Make some money. Eat. Sleep. Yikes.
When the seeming meaninglessness of it all hits me…it’s pretty heavy. We do so much. We exert so much effort into things without having a clear understanding of why. What’s the connection to the big picture. What do we want? We’re not here forever. Shouldn’t each action be carefully measured against our huge life goals? Assuming we have big life goals. Maybe you don’t. I used to. Now, I’m so caught up in the daily “essentials” that I don’t think that way much. It lurks in the back of my mind though. This thought that I’m wasting time, or that I’m moving forward without a clear motivation or inspiration for my actions.
I’m about to turn 38. If you’ve ever turned 20 or 30 or really any age in the thirties, you probably know that feeling of time evaporating. I had a lot of days at age 37 where I felt like, “Well, it’ll be over soon. It’s been a decent ride. Wish I achieved more.” Sounds crazy to a lot of people. 37 isn’t old unless you’re 37 or any age younger than 37. But it is a stage of life where suddenly you start to see the world through your parents’ eyes. You start thinking about where this is all going and how do you keep your kids safe and healthy. You start worrying about the economy and your retirement and, if you have any spare mental energy, your legacy.
I have the best job I’ve ever had in my life. I have the best life partner (as I get older this term seems ever more appropriate to describe what marriage really is) I could’ve imagined. I have the most amazing daughter. We just bought a house we love. We have everything we need. I’m more confused than ever about the meaning of it all.
Some days it feels like the meaning is to love people and be good to them and enrich their lives. Other days it’s really hard to give a shit about humans – they just seem so selfish and ignorant. Some days the meaning is self-improvement – crafting the best version of myself. Some days the meaning is fun – just play games and do things you enjoy and laugh a lot. And some days there’s just no meaning to be found.
The days searching for meaning are good though. It forces me to look past the superficial. Past the beauty of my car, past the salary and importance of my job, past what other people think of me, past the possessions I want to collect, past the recognition I desire – look past all the trivial shit that will not matter at the end of it all.
I think most of us want to feel like we’re making some positive mark on the world. It’s the feeling that matters more than the actual making of the mark. It’s all feelings I suppose, although the meditators say that we are not our feelings. Most of us can’t separate the two. It is interesting that the sense of progress is more important than actual progress. Or maybe it’s the proper intentions in our actions that is most important. I know when I put my head down and just do some work with the intention of that work being great, it feels good. How often can we say we do that? How often do you put your head down and do things with great intentions? Whether that intention be kindness, greatness, generosity, love, or whatever you define as a great intention.
I think it’s pretty rare for me. If I have any common intention it typically just to make things easier for the people in my life, which I suppose I’d call a good intention. Occasionally, I feel inspired to show someone how much I appreciate them and/or love them, and I send them a heartfelt message of gratitude. That action and intention invariably brings emotions and a feeling of meaning to the surface. Gratitude is all the rage these days. I guess they’re onto something.
It’s time to wrap this up, so I guess this post is a call to take actions with intention. Do your work with the intention that it be great or generous or useful. Live your home life with the intention to deeply love and appreciate the people to whom you are closest and who love you the most. Drive your car with the intention to be kind, safe and efficient. Live in the world with the intention to brighten people’s days. Live with intention.
My intention is that this post helps you see your world with more clarity, depth, and meaning. I appreciate you taking the time to read this. Thank you.