Tuesday, October 13, 2015

A Life of Purpose and Meaning

Consider, if you will, that our choices guide the direction of our lives, and yet when we look at the experiences that shaped us, whether victory or tragedy, it feels like it was meant to happen that way to get us to the point in our lives where we are presently.

I have always taken an interest in exploring these philosophical concepts.  Are our lives one of our own making?  Are we predestined to a fate we cannot avoid?  What is the point of having free will?

My struggles with these concepts began very early in my life.  By the time I was five-years-old, I had already dealt with my parents divorcing when I was two, my father had remarried twice leaving me to feel I had been replaced twice, I had been kidnapped by my father from my mother and I had been sexually assaulted twice.  I suffered from serious abandonment issues and when I went to church, I heard the resounding message that Jesus loved me loud and clear.  It is easy enough to indoctrinate a child with religious tenants, but in my emotionally vulnerable psychological state, my beliefs became my salvation, but also one of my greatest obstacles.

I understood that we were free to accept or reject Jesus as the savior as a religious concept of free will, but I was also indoctrinated to believe that God had given me a purpose and through that purpose I would do God's will.  I also saw example upon example of people saying "it's God's will" when something bad would happen.

Like any other human being, I made mistakes, but always tried to keep myself within the guidelines of my personal beliefs in God.  I firmly believed I would be shown the way and God would open doors of opportunities in my life so I could do his will.  I had a worrisome personality, fretting with every decision I had to make, constantly praying for guidance.

The result was inaction in my life.  As I stood by waiting for solutions and signs, I remained immobile.  Sure, I had dreams and aspirations, but I did not set clear goals for myself well until I reached adulthood.  When I had a crisis of faith, I became truly lost without any sense of direction and a future that overwhelmed me with uncertainty.

Lucky for me, I had always been a bookworm and I enjoyed reading.  I began researching, studying and learning what I could.  I spent a considerable amount of my time trying to understand human behavior and other spiritual concepts.  I searched for answers.  One of my emerging passions was science.

Theoretical scientists who have studied quantum mechanics have proven to collation between Space Time and Causality, which basically says the Universe exists in all points and is all happening at once, so our futures already exist and are happening.  On the surface, this would leave one to falsely believe that their choices and actions have already been predetermined, so it would seem moot to believe you have the power to dictate your own future.  These theorems are only one piece of the puzzle because you also have to consider quantum entanglement and the uncertainty principle

Intrigued by what I learned, I focused on examining myself closely, trying to understand my own behavior and what level of control I had over my life.  My wife and children challenged my way of thinking as I tried to avoid making the same mistakes as my parents.  Keep in mind, I am not bashing spiritual concepts here because I truly believe my childhood faith afforded me a measure of peace and shaped me into the man I am today.  I try to be kind and compassionate, as well as fair and empathic to the suffering of others, but if I had simply been a product of my childhood misfortunes, I don't believe I would be who I am today.

Since I have loved writing since I was 12-years-old and I was also a big fan of fantasy stories, I decided to explore the idea of Fate vs Free Will in my first novel, Heir of the Blood King.  Essentially, I developed a fantasy world filled with mythical creatures and magic, which leaves the imagination open to many possibilities, but then I implemented the idea that everyone who lived in my world was predestined at birth.  I then inserted a character who for some reason or another was left out and was born without a fate.  Pondering the storylines over the eight book outlines that I planned, I began to truly understand how powerful the concept of free will is.

I've always been one to hold myself accountable for my actions, never placing the burden of my failures onto what may have been preordained in my life, however I did not take actions after experiencing a failure usually because I took it as a sign that I was not intended to take that route.  It was not in God's plan or else I would have succeeded.

What I discovered was that our successes and failures shape who we are.  We are a collection of our experiences and if you remove any of those experiences, no matter how insignificant they may seem, you will change in some form or manner.  Let me give you an example.  I am an avid chocoholic.  I love chocolate and I can turn any conversation into a declaration of how much I love it. What if I had been ill the very first time I had chocolate and what if it had made me sick.  It could have created an aversion to chocolate that could have affected me for the rest of my life.  I can honestly say that I would not be the same person if I didn't love chocolate.  That's how much of an influence it has over me.

So the reason all these experiences that make up your path feel so much like they were meant to happen is because it is all of these factors, these stimuli that shaped who you are right now.  A year from now, you will not be the same person you are today.  We are a constantly changing image of ourselves.  In fact, when you look in a mirror, you are not looking at yourself.  You are looking at a version of yourself about one billionth of second in the past because that's how long it takes for your reflection to bounce back to your eye.

When you understand that your fate is in your own hands and your choices matter, you claim the power of your free will to act.  When you exercise this free will, it becomes a purpose.  It is not for me nor anyone else in this world to tell you what that purpose is.  No one can possibly know your mind more than you do because as I have already said, you are a collection of all of your experiences and interactions.  You can know someone's one mind better than anyone else and if you spend a week apart, there are things that could happen within that week that will change the person you knew.  Luckily in most situations, events are rarely that dramatic.  People change over time in much the way the flow of water slowly reshapes rocks.  One simple truth that will always hold true is that everything changes.  This is one of the reasons people move in and out of our lives.

For me, I chose to make my purpose writing because I enjoy it so much.  I feel that the more I write, the better I get at it.  I have an active imagination and writing provides a powerful creative outlet.  You may seek your purpose in something else.  Anything that you choose to do on purpose is the course your life will take.  If you choose to do nothing, do not do like I did and ask why nothing ever seemed to happen.  This is the surest way to lose control of your life because as I said, we are a product of all of our experiences.  The world will move on around you.  Seize your opportunities, take hold of your dreams.

Where there is the will, there is a way.  This is how we give our lives meaning.  Once you find your purpose, you can align your goals towards that purpose and surround yourself with people who can understand and possibly share your vision.  I made my purpose writing.  I give my work meaning by exploring concepts like free will, teamwork, friendship and loyalty.  I explore ideas about the minds of bullies so others can share the knowledge of what I have discovered for myself.  This has brought a level of happiness into my life that I had never before imagined.

So find your purpose and give your life meaning.  If you want to make your purpose playing video games, set goals for yourself. With opportunities today like Twitch, you can make a living and possibly more.  If a charity weighs heavy on your heart, you can find a way to use your purpose to game to bring awareness or even donations to that charity.  You will have true meaning.

If you struggle with your purpose, don't give up.  Keep trying and find different ways to succeed.  Learn, discover, research, change plans.  You will learn more from your failures than you ever will from your successes.  People who truly succeed in life never quit because it is too hard and they never blame fate for their failures.  Get up, brush yourself off and take your destiny into your own hands...



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