For those of you Seinfeld fans out there, one of the most classic scenes in the history of the show is when Jerry has essentially “had it.” He and George are sitting down for lunch at their usual spot when Jerry just breaks down and says….”What is this? What are we doing? What in God’s name are we doing? Our lives? What kind of lives are these? Don’t worry, the clip of these scene is below:
I’ve always felt this was one of my favorite moments on the show. And the reason is because it’s just so real. At various points in our lives we always face this existential question of “why am I here?” We think to ourselves “what is the point of all of this?” We wonder why it is that we do what we do. What is the point? What is the purpose?
And some of us even find ourselves asking this question when our lives are completely fine. Even when great things are going on it can hit you like a bat out of hell. I mean you could literally be on cloud nine 24 hours prior and then all of a sudden the next day it just appears. You wonder why anything even matters.
I’ve felt this way and feel this way more often than I’d like to realize. And I’d be lying to you if I said I had an answer to any of life’s deepest questions. I’d be lying if I told you I have the secret to a meaningful life. I don’t think anyone has this answer.
So then what do we do?
I don’t think the answer is going out and joining the Peace Corps. I don’t think the answer is setting yourself up for this one giant thing in life that’s going to “bring it all together.” Because for all we know we could join the Peace Corps, enlist in the Marines, or take part in the biggest, most important space mission in the history of the world, and yet we’ll still inevitably come down with this feeling of “so what.”
It’s when we realize and accept that this thought is a natural occurrence that we can at least live with it and not try to force our ways out of it. That’s about the best answer I can give you. It’s my humble opinion that we’ll never, ever get out of these temporary ruts. I think these temporary ruts are part of the deal we signed up for when we were born. They’re part of being human and having a human brain.
No really, so what do we do?
The more years I spend on this earth the more I recognize that my place on this earth exists for multiple reasons. Sometimes those reasons are more prevalent on certain days than others. On some days I think I’ve been put on this earth to be a great father and husband. Sometimes I think I exist to build a business that might change the world. Other times I think that I should be on this earth to be in as many meaningful relationships as possible. And more times than not I think to myself, “maybe I should just be here to enjoy it all.” And that’s the conclusion I come to most. That each purpose, each reason, each “life” that we lead is all part of the deal. They’re all part of trying to enjoy it all.
So then what’s the secret to enjoying it all?
That’s the answer that every Buddhist, Meditation Guru, Motivational Speaker, Christian, Muslim, anyone in the entire world is trying to get you to figure out. The truth is that there is no answer. The truth is that we’ll never figure out it. What we can do, what’s in our control….are our actions. And our actions are going to lead to things we either enjoy and want more of, or don’t enjoy and want less of. The game in life is to end with more things we liked than didn’t like. That’s the best we can hope for, and that’s OK.
But to think we have a central purpose or “reason” for being is a futile thought. It’s a dangerous proposition.
Living life itself is what actually matters. Not pondering its meaning.