There are no rules.
After having grown up in a church, this was mind-blowing to realize as a teenager. It has been completely liberating. But the last few years have taught me that freedom has its faults.
You need a rock to hang onto when things aren't working out.
It's all good and groovy to be a fair-weather optimist.
If the sun is shining, the mood is surface level, and the responsibilities aren't stacked up, it's easy to feel some type of bliss. But when your level in life all of sudden requires expert mode out of nowhere, you'll be scrambling. Scrambling for a reference guide, navigation - a way to stay oriented towards the up & up.
It's terrifying to be in an existential freefall, where nothing matters in any direction & life is simply what you make it. The daunting question that sits at the forefront of the mind is: what do I make it?
Will it stand up to hardship? Will it hold the weight of the world and refuse to break?
If meaning is just a blank canvas, how can one be so confident in what they choose to create?
I remember being a little kid and singing this church song about how we ought to build our house on rock and not sand.
The song made it clear that building a house on sand is a bad idea, because when the rains comes it'll be washed away & the house will crumble.
Obviously, being like 7 I had no idea what this really meant, but post-pandemic (in addition to general maturity) I'm seeing the importance of the underlying message.
There will inevitably be some tragedies in all of our lives so we best prepare. A system for good & evil, right vs. wrong.
We need a source of truth.
Something to look towards regardless of circumstance & situation. Just like a tree grows more on the sunny side, it knows where to look.
Purpose has two-sides.
Towards and Away From
Some philosopher guy once said that the meaning of life is the reason you don't kill yourself.
Pretty blunt way of looking at it, but he had a point.
I've been helping out with natural burials all year and there have been a few people that chose their death.
Young people. My age people.
You can only imagine the absolute devastation seen in the family and friends' eyes. You can feel the heaviness in the air.
I've tried to imagine what the mental landscape of someone contemplating suicide must be like and it reeks of Hell. It's hard to imagine. It makes me sick.
It's not that we need to aim at Heaven and ignore the rest. No. We have to pay even closer attention to Hell to ensure we steer clear.
Except no makes vision boards about the life they definitely do not want. We might be more motivated if we did though. Company visiting your home might not come back, but at least you'll be living on the straight & narrow.
My problems aren't so life or death.
They are fluff in comparison, but important to me no less.
When I'm tempted, either by a slice of cake, masturbation, slacking off at work, or vegging out on a screen - the 1st thing that pops into my head, wickedly, is "Why not?".
It's a rule-check.
It's the devil on the shoulder.
"Oh come on, who cares, what's the big deal"
And if there isn't a strong enough 'Why not' in place, we'll give in every time despite our 'Why'.
The 'Why' can work often times, but the 'Why not' has to work every time.
So while it's not socially acceptable to make a vision board of your personal Hell, you can look into the eyes of other people you see out & about in the world.
You'll be able to tell right away if it's someone you'd like to resemble or not. For me, whether factually true or not, I imagine that these people I certainly don't want to be like are this way because they gave into temptation.
Not that they're bad or anything, but that their 'Why not' was weak.
It didn't stand the test.
Build yourself something to work against.
Turns out there can be a lot of overlap between building design and building a life. John Ruskin (unknowingly perhaps) tells us how to live life better.
It's never too late to stumble upon an underlying principle of reality. (Especially one that can be put to use immediately)