My first long-form article, that I’m actually making for self fulfillment. Not for brands. Not for money. Not even for SEO.
So proud. I hope I actually publish this.
Let’s begin with a proper hello.
Spoiler: there isn’t a single image in this post. I want you to read for the sake of reading (idealist much)
Let’s cut to the chase.
I recently read a very interesting piece online regarding our petty existence in the wake of the universe. Please note that if I say that a piece is interesting, it really speaks volumes. I consume about 5-10 articles a day (thank you modern humanity for Pocket and Medium), not counting books and must-read-for-work-purposes publications, and many of them are intellectually enriching and eye-opening. However, very few actually earn the let’s-make-a-post-about-it status.
This is the article I’m referring to: The Purpose of Life is to Be a Nobody
(please take a few minutes to read it, or ask me if you want a spoiler)
Here’s a basic overview of the content:
a. We are of no significance whatsoever compared to the almighty universe and the components that inhabit it, dead or alive.
b. Being a “nobody” allows you to experience The Sublime, which is a sensory experience defined by Edmund Burke in 1757 that notions the feeling one has when faced in the awe of nature or a great work of art, compared to simply experiencing the standardized aesthetics set by common society (known as The Beautiful).
c. Being a “nobody” frees you from labels, hierarchies, and ultimately, pressure to be somebody. Simply put, you’re no longer unconsciously dictated to behave a certain way or do a certain thing because of the accomplishments that you’ve achieved -or you haven’t-. You are no more or less important than any other human being on this planet.
d. Being a “nobody” makes you appreciate the struggles that you’ve gone through instead of the desires that you aspire to achieve. Or in other words, believing that the universe won’t give you anything just because you deem yourself worthy for it will actually make you work harder to obtain it.
e. Since you’re as insignificant as any one living person (and therefore any living person is as insignificant as you are), accepting the objective reality will make you realize that everything is beautiful and your ego is the only thing hindering you from living life to the fullest.
And now, my take on the piece.
1. “Do whatever makes you happy” really does exist
BUT! And this one huge round smoking hot but; with minimal cost of others’ happiness. I’ve seen and heard too many proud stories of how people are living lives to the fullest, getting black out drunk, and doing the stuff they really enjoy. But I’ve also heard that their happiness comes at the cost of their parents’ house, the disdain of their friends, or the growing discontent of their loved ones. I wonder a lot how one person could be truly happy when their relationships are torn to pieces.
Maintain the people who are worthy to keep, feed them with your love, and do whatever you can to keep all parties happy, including -and most importantly- yourself.
2. Nature survives and evolves because it has no ego
Imagine if trees have the ego to outrace water because they feel compelled to also be able to generate electricity. Or if they are envious of light, longing to travel as fast and far. An ecosystem survives because living and non-living components that make up for it play their part very well. Living components has yet ceased to exist because the community of organisms -and in turn, population of species- maintain a good balance of relationship and cycle (one dies, another is born).
To survive and flourish in our population, we too, must play our part accordingly. Not more and not less. This I guess is why so many self-help gurus and Instagram celebrities so highly encourage finding your “passion”. As tough as an actress who doesn’t know what part she’s playing when filming has started, it must be difficult to flourish when you don’t know what you’re supposed to be doing. Because you don’t know your part, you assume entitlement and responsibilities of others to yourself, feeding the big ball of ego inside. In order to flourish, you must find your part, play the part, and let others play theirs.
3. The more energy you spend shaping others’ perceptions and actions, the less energy you have for enjoyment
Imagine if you were a 5-year old begging to your mom to buy you vanilla ice cream. Your mother then carries out her usual argument against ice-cream indulgence. You pretend to not hear them and beg some more, perhaps this time with tears and saliva running down your face. Not wanting to further inflame your tear glands, your mother gives up and buy your came-from-heaven-vanilla-sundae. Now, how happy are you now that you’ve fulfilled your short-term goal? Ecstatic, I’d assume.
Now imagine if after your mother voices her argument, you pause your begging for a while and instead launches a counter-argument about how ice creams are essential to the sustainability of life (a.k.a your life). Then you go back and forth some more with further well-researched data and your mother does the same until one of you decides to stop for the sake of sanity. Will your mother succumb to your statement and change her point of view towards ice cream? Perhaps. Will you feel as happy earning an ice cream after an exhaustive and straining argument with your own mother? I doubt. Will your mother feel happy about the encounter? No. Not only you’ve wasted time and energy, you’re also missing out on other happiness opportunities that might have come while you’re researching data to back up your argument to make your mother love ice cream as much as you do.
4. This one is a no brainer; you get what you sacrifice for
Say, a man swiping girls on Tinder every day of his life will be more likely to find fun/ soulmate/ happy flings compared to a man who sits in front of his computer perfecting a program or ideating the next big breakthrough formula to launch a successful startup. It goes the other way as well, a man who is drowned in his project will be more likely to earn praise or even achieve success compared to the Tinder-swiping-only man.
Written it blunt and bare like this it seems quite simple and obvious to understand. Of course you won’t earn riches swiping Tinder (unless, the swipee is your potential Sugamama/ Sugadaddy), of course you won’t get a wife/ husband working 24/7, of course you won’t get a child without having sex, of course you won’t lose weight without adopting a healthy life, and of course you won’t find peace by yelling at others all the goddamn time. Lots and lots of time, I (we) ponder why on earth some people have it real easy finding love, while some seem to smooth sail through their careers, and some others are like magnet to interesting friends or dramatic events. Little do I know what happens inside their minds and how much sacrifice was given to excel at that particular area of life.
5. We’re not entitled to any form happiness, and hence, the “pursuit of happiness”
Also a no brainer that everyone seems to forget. The world isn’t gonna hand anyone a bag of salted-egg potato chips for free. You gotta go to Singapore, locate an Irvins/ The Golden Duck, and buy it. Same thing as happiness, only you don’t need to travel to Singapore to pursue it.
Coming back to Edmund Burke’s theory of The Sublime, you really wouldn’t be able to experience the ultimately beautiful experience if you think even the slightest that you’re somehow entitled for it. Was Mount Kilimanjaro built specifically for you? No. You gotta pursue it and climb it if you want to experience the subliminal moment of staring down from the mighty mountain.
If you somehow managed to read through until this point, then I beg you to send me a message/ Instagram DM/ email/ whatever
the fuck you find convenient and let me know your thoughts. I’m quite big on this Taoist thing and would love a good brain tickle whether you agree or disagree.
Ciao! Thanks for reading, I *heart* you