by Sumitrra Ganguli
Age 32. Columbia, MO
I haven’t read Jean-Paul- Sartre or any of the other visionaries you speak of in your article, but in the three decades of my existence, I’ve come to believe that to attain your purpose in life, you don’t need to sit through pages of byzantine, obtuse philosophy/arguments – you just need to be a more sentient human being. Moreover, as I see it, your purpose in life is not just ‘the’ one thing – a successful professional, travelling the world, being a philanthropist, feeding the hungry…..the concept in and of itself is dynamic in nature…..its ultimate goal being a greater understanding of the physical and the metaphysical and in the process evolving in to a higher spiritual being or attaining oneness with the universe. And more importantly, from my own experiences I’ve come to realise that your purpose is a realization stemming from the culmination of the experiences that you choose to undergo throughout your existence.
To illustrate my point – I left my family, my country and all that I had ever called my own, all that I had ever associated with…a thousand miles away to pursue my dreams (I am a doctoral student in Economics here in the US).
TO ATTAIN YOUR PURPOSE IN LIFE, YOU DON’T NEED TO SIT THROUGH PAGES OF BYZANTINE, OBTUSE PHILOSOPHY…YOU JUST NEED TO BE A MORE SENTIENT HUMAN BEING.
To put things in perspective, I am so close (spiritually, emotionally..and whatever other bond you could possibly think of) to my family, that every time my parents think of me I feel a certain something within – its that feeling of love/security…you can’t see it or put it in to so many words….and yet it’s the most beautiful feeling in the world.
Be that as it may, four months after I left my country, I lost my father – it was all so sudden, I couldn’t even make it home to be with him for that one last time, to tell him how much I loved him, to tell him how much he meant to me, and above all to tell him that I was ‘there’ for him..like he had always been for me. My father’s passing had left me devastated – Baba (meaning ‘father’ in my native tongue) was the centre of my universe…He was my mobile dictionary, sounding board for all my insanely stupid ideas, my shield during those embarrassing PTA meetings, the metaphorical guinea pig for all my culinary experiments….his passing had brought my life to a standstill and I was starting to lose my will to live when I realized something remarkable. I recall taking an Econ class in early spring – there was a tree outside the classroom that had shed all its leaves and looked very sad and forlorn.
As the semester progressed, I saw it going from the picture of gloom to the most beautiful and joyous thing ever. And that was when I realized that everything in life goes through a cycle – the sun rises….only to set, the waves rise…only to fall, closer to our world….we start out in Kindergarten in hopes of graduating someday, middle school/high school…everything…everything happens in a cycle…and all cycles must come to an end only to start a new one….the biggest one…we are born…only to die someday….it would be unnatural if it were to be otherwise.
YOUR PURPOSE IN LIFE MAY NOT BE SOMETHING PROFOUND…[BUT HOPEFULLY YOU CAN] DIE KNOWING THAT YOU ARE A MORE EVOLVED SOUL THAN YOU WERE WHEN YOU STARTED OUT IN THIS WORLD.
Being brought up in a devout Hindu family – we had been exposed to a lot of what is written in the scriptures – of special significance is a story where a king was asked what he thought the greatest wonder in the world was and he says that we all know that death is an eventuality and yet we are never able to come to terms with it. Yes, I did read this – but I did not quite understand the meaning of it – not even when my father passed on. But yes, through being a more sentient human being, I was able to appreciate the meaning of this story, make my peace with the process of life and death…and be one step closer to being a more evolved human being.
What I am trying to get at through all of this is that…your purpose in life may not be something profound/earth shattering…its not like winning the Nobel or nothing…your purpose is a journey…one where you discover more about yourself, about the world around you…and hopefully, die knowing that you are a more evolved soul than you were when you started out in this world.