Sometimes I still get confused about my purpose here. I have bouts of feeling disconnected from meaning, like, what is the point of all this anyway? A question I've been asking myself since I was very young. In a world without meaning life becomes bleak. "What's the point of me doing anything?" veils a much scarier question, "What's the point of living?"
Luckily, today I catch myself before slipping into that depressive spiral where nothing seems to hold any meaning, the world appears empty and unfillable, and my only action is to spin in place. I counter that tendency by doing what I know I need to do. "Don't think about it," I remind myself, "Just do something! Anything but to sit here thinking."
So my day continues on. But not without the creeping fear of meaninglessness lurking in the shadows, threatening to derail me, to assault me and leave me curled on the floor in a ball. To be honest we wrestled, and there were times I wanted to cave and just lay flat on my face proclaiming the world to be little more than a cemetery, or a hospital waiting room at best. All of us sick and broken people waiting in line to be put back together. Not just a sad story, but an unfulfilling one since it has no ending. The perpetual brokenness of the world is so unsexy.
But every time I went down, I got back up. I kept doing, even if just the little things. Email him back, call her to confirm the thing, head out for a short hike in nature. The wheel of life keeps turning. Then later that evening I had an interesting insight while having a cup of tea with a friend. We were reflecting on an instance a few years prior when we were just getting to know each other. We were visiting another friend in the hospital. Now the three of us are in very different situations in life, still connected, and we've all impacted each other in ways both seen and unseen.
That's when it hit me suddenly. I'm sitting here thinking, wow, we are all so intertwined. All of us here interacting with each other. The significance of one interaction may not become evident until years later, if ever! How could I have known what I would mean to someone? And in fact, the story is still being written. I could still end up meaning something very different to them before it's all said and done.
So maybe it's true that life here is meaningless in some ways. Everything is temporary and no one lives forever. No idea lives forever, nothing we build but will become dust some day. And yet, I can't deny that my presence in someones life could mean that it changes, for better or worse. And I realized maybe not for the first time, but for the first time that day: life is only meaningful in as much as I'm sharing it with others. To live life alone - in my room, in my head, in my cozy little hideaway - is to live a life without meaning. But to be with people, to share my gifts and to receive theirs, to face challenges together, that's how life becomes meaningful to me.
So much of growing up is asserting autonomy and finding oneself as an individual. Learning what matters most to us and where we fit in. For me that has occasionally led to an overemphasis on self-reliance. But what if the ultimate expression of autonomy is to use it to apply myself to a shared purpose, something larger than me? It could be that the best expression of autonomy just might be to give myself away.