I believe that my major suffering in my life is why do anything in the first place? When I dig deep down in my soul, I find no source of motivation to get up and do anything. This is not a lack of interests in anything, rather, the hollow void in me can’t be filled with anything, or to put it simply, I can’t find satisfaction in what I do.
Sometimes I try to answer this question by a belief, a belief that the world is filled timid and useless crap, in which I have no intention to be part of. Therefore, I attempt to align myself with a monastic beliefs or stoic philosophies to justify my inability to find a reason to create, or even participate in anything.
And yet, when I see the world around me, I see beautiful creations, whether it’s an artwork, a musical piece, or even an insanely delicious plate of food. The question keep pounding back to my head, which takes me back to the first place in the questioning.
In my research for an answer, I discovered that this question had been asked thousands of times throughout the ages in different shapes and forms. It’s like this question is hard wired in our humanity. It’s a shame that this sort of questions are labeled as existential crisis or breakdowns, or sometimes treated as a form of depression.
I believe that every human being had asked this question, whether they received an answer or not, whether if they are able to articulate it meaningfully or even aware of its existence in their mind.
Yes, I guess we both agree that we are overwhelmed with podcasts and self-help books that aim to get us motivated to get up 5AM in the morning everyday to practice our hobbies or projects like writing or play a piece of music.
But no matter what amount of content we consumed on this matter, we are still unable to stay motivated, so we dive in this vicious cycle of motivation books and lectures to maintain the momentum. But if it does work, why do we keep returning to those content every now and then?
In my point of view, no, it doesn’t work as easy as that. We are creatures of reason, we like to ask questions, we like to contemplate on almost everything. So motivation isn’t the key we are looking for to answer the damned question (Why do anything?).
We need a meaning, we need a reason that align us philosophically and spiritually to make us get up in the morning and do things.
But before we get to answer this question, first we have to define it.
The definition of why do anything is to seek a meaning, seek a purpose as a source of motivation.
This question can only be asked when a person can’t find any meaning or unable to find a purpose to his/her doing.
To answer this question, I had to dive deep in the human knowledge cave which I wasn’t sure that I will be able to leave it when I reach the treasure, or the answer.
My first dive was into some books, I skimmed pages after pages, I made highlights on some books, other books were tossed far away from my own visible horizon.
There’s one passage from Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations that struck me to the ground, which he recomposed my question and articulated it in a more meaningful way:
“..The age of Vespasian, for example. People doing the exact same things: marrying, raising children, getting sick, dying, waging war, throwing parties, doing business, farming, flattering, boasting, distrusting, plotting, hoping others will die, complaining about their own lives, falling in love, putting away money, seeking high office and power. And that life they led is nowhere to be found. Or the age of Trajan. The exact same things. And that life too–gone. Survey the records of other eras. And see how many others gave their all and soon died and decomposed into the elements that formed them. But most of all, run through the list of those you knew yourself. Those who worked in vain, who failed to do what they should have–what they should have remained fixed on and found satisfaction in.”
Now that will leave us in a more troubling position in our question, in the previous passage, we conclude that all what we do will go in vain, whatever we work hard for will disappear as we all going to vanish from this very existence.
He continues: “..Then what should we work for? Only this: proper understanding; unselfish action; truthful speech. A resolve to accept whatever happens as necessary and familiar, flowing like water from that same source and spring.”
Now, the question itself that why do anything is actually invalid, it’s a loophole. Why do anything can be answered with why ask in the first place? Again, to find a meaning and to define our identities in this environment we live in.
Why this exist?
Why this exist?
Why this exist?
Why anything exist? Because why not? Do we need a meaning to do anything? Not really.
We do and create so we could experience ourselves, so we could express our inner dialogue and point of views with the surrounding environment.
We do not do or create to define ourselves, what we do and create defines us. Therefore, you can’t identify yourself unless you do and create.
Even if you can’t identify yourself with your creation, at least now you know that you are not that.
Your actions has no meanings, the meaning comes when you are done with the action itself.
So go and create that absurd painting that no one is going to like. Go and push some keys on that piano that your neighbors gonna end up banging their heads on your shared wall. Go and marry that guy and start the family you’ve always dreamed of.
Dance, make chaos, sing loudly in this empty, meaningless universe. For what you are is what the universe is.
In your actions, experience will come, and then, you will be able to answer your own question: Why do anything?
Then you will know the answer.
“The only meaningful life is a life that strives for the individual realization–absolute and unconditional–of its own particular law…To the extent that a man is untrue to the law of his being…he has failed to realize his life’s meaning.”
Reality is what you make of it, whatever you believe in is the truth, whatever you don’t, it’s simply not real.
There is no meaning in anything, therefore you are invited to create your own meanings in any shape or form you want, and no one has the right to set the rules or guidelines for this but yourself.