Sreenath Sreenivasan

Thriving Mindfully

On finding purpose in life

Imagine a stone age ancestor staring at a luminous galactic spiral in the vistas of the night sky. At some moment, while still years away from development of language, a higher consciousness was awakened in his being, as he asked himself a question that has befuddled the minds of every descendant ever since.

‘What am I here for?’
‘Does life really have any purpose?’

Simple as the question seems, even after all these years, humankind is yet to find a definitive answer to it.

We have unraveled many mysteries of the distant galaxies that our hominid ancestors were fascinated by. But even to this day, as we stare through a telescope at the rings of Saturn, or at a nebulous galaxy cluster lights years away, the same question resurfaces, as if the spectacle of the grandeur of the cosmos serves as a precursor to this elementary existential inquiry.

At this very moment, while a majority of humans that are alive are trying to find the answers to the meaning of existence in their own ways, there is a section of the demographic that exists so deeply in the present that the thought of finding a reason for existence does not ever occur.

Kids have never asked this question!

But the moment they begin to ask this question, they are beyond the cusp of childhood. Most of us reading this are past that phase. And in moments of solitude, especially when confronted with a thing of beauty, or the melancholy that accompanies the realization of our finitude, do we dwell on our existential relevance.

‘Why am I here?’

In the grand scheme of things, most of us do not have an answer to that question.
But should that be a reason to not seek?

Perhaps a change in perspective can come to the rescue.

While in the grand design of the universe, baffled by the perspective of the telescope, as you find yourself to be clueless about the reason for your existence, shift your gaze , re-focus and look at the world through the lens of your eyes, at the immediate world that surrounds you.

Shift your focus from the timelessness of the cosmos to this very fraction of the continuum of time.

In that moment, ask yourself the same question.

‘Why am I here?’

More often than not, you will find a convincing answer. Each living moment, you have a reason to do something. A motivation drives you to be alive and be involved in the world around you.

You could be at home, waiting for a loved one, or chasing your cat around the room to feed her, or wondering about your next work of art. You could be crying because you’ve not come to terms with a loss, or smiling because you heard from a long lost friend, you could be humming your favorite tune, be deeply engrossed in the work that you love best or snuggled up on your couch doing absolutely nothing.

In each of these instances, at the heart of the moment, you find a reason to exist.

Look around and ask yourself,
What am I here for?

Perhaps to be of help, to share your labor, to make someone’s day, to serve with devotion, or to take care of someone you love, perhaps your own self?

Once you reconcile with the unfathomable vastness and the vastness of the unfathomable, and focus on what brings meaning to the present moment, what role you must play in the little world around you, your heart will be reassured with an abiding sense of purpose.

Perhaps true meaning dwells in these little crevices of time, where you must do every little thing you do, with a lot of love.

But don’t shy away from the telescope just yet. For in that moment, as the lenses gather starlight, you are there to be fascinated, just like the stone age ancestor, transfixed by the cyclopean canvas of the cosmos.

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2 Comments

  1. Ashwini Nagarhalli

    August 26, 2019 at 11:24 am

    Super..
    Beautifully written

  2. Fascinating as always, thanks for sharing your most intimate thoughts.

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