Good evening ladies and gentleman
Recent times and lockdowns in mind, purpose has found its way into my rhythm of work and existential crises. We live in an age where it’s very difficult to have a purpose, to know what defines us. We are allowed to go to the shops to buy essential items and go to work when we can’t do it from home. It means a great deal of people are at home, sometimes alone, for vast periods of time without any form of social interaction.
We are stuck in an endless cycle at the moment, every dam day near identical. Waking up the same time, going to the same place and doing largely the same thing for the same amount of time, eating at the same time, sleeping at the same time etc. It’s easy to feel as if you have no purpose, as if someone hit the pause button and now it’s stuck.
As much as this is a nice idea and could appease the most of us, i don’t think it’s that simple to you. We are still living, still growing, learning, every day another day we are unable to get back, even if it’s spent forcibly doing very little. You define yourself through your purpose, especially in these modern times, because external factors for life have become so loud now they are near impossible to ignore.
You like reading, cars, fish, animals, stamps- whatever it might be. They are your hobbies, the things that you enjoy doing. The places you wish to see, the road trips you have planned, the friends you only want to embrace after seeing them after what feels like forever. To hug someone who understands, to hug someone you care for so deeply as they squeeze you tighter i maintain is the most powerful form of anxiety relief going, even in this vast expanse of isolation.
So the truth is- your pursuit of fire, that feeling you’re truly alive has been rather lost for the time being or at least consigned to nothing more than a memory. The memories we have are supposedly the building blocks of our personality, the fundamental makeup of who we are and who we are ultimately going to be. This idea that this is a process, developing new memories and having new experiences has been put on hold is a hard one to handle- because the life we experience is the story we tell ourselves of who we are.
Thing is right now the ink is near out and nobody is sure where to get anymore from.
As much as i loathe such an overused phrase- the “new normal” is something we are all sort of having to get used to. The world is not the same as it was last year and it never will be, so the way we understand life, how we define our lives the purpose we live towards is going to change and continue to change.
The way you define your life has always been the purpose that gets you up in the morning. The reason to carry on has always been what drives your heart and soul when your body would much rather stay in bed. This is the part of you when you question your purpose and wander what you’re carrying on for. “Why am i bothering, to what purpose will this serve me?” and so on. We often seem so controlled by the external factors in our lives, so to lose that part of your life, that reason to carry on- its very easy to feel lost. Almost like you don’t know what your purpose is anymore.
This is where the line is blurred i think, between who we are and what defines us, in comparison to what we want to do and the places we want to see. We are not defined by a place or a car, seeing a band play live or seeing the Mona Lisa in Paris. This does not give us a better understanding of who we are and our place in the world, but instead gives us a better appreciation of the other things in the world.
The inkwell, for the time being, is empty. The black ink you have been writing the story of your life with isn’t available on Amazon, all the ink stores are closed. “How do i carry on without it?” I need my inkwell to dip my pen to write the next chapter of who I am. Without the ink you find most comfortingly familiar, life in itself becomes unfamiliar.
This is, at a time like this…inevitable. We have found ourselves in unprecedented times and the world has been left reeling from the consequences of this pandemic. Furthermore it’s far from over yet, so our personal battles must continue. Now we can fight to find that black ink, sure, but the writing has to carry on. To lose sight of your purpose means life really isn’t worth living, and what defines us is so much more than we know.
You are not defined by your job. You are not defined by your car, or lack of car. You are not defined by the social media platforms you have, or the likes your photos get. You are not the clothes you can’t afford or the payments you struggle to make. You are not defined by the partner you have, or don’t- or their social media presence. You are not defined by the food you eat, by your sexuality or race.
No single thing, feeling or idea can give you an understanding of who you are. Losing access to that familiar black ink is terrifying- make no mistake. The fear however, leaves you with two options at its heart, for like most things- a choice needs to be made.
Give in to the fear and wander what your purpose should be. Fear carrying on the story of you without that black ink, so much so that you write nothing at all.
Or find a new colour and carry on.
The world isn’t ever going to be the same, in truth, the world as we knew it is long gone. We can sit here and mourn its loss, or we can carry on and thrive, evolve beyond ever our own understanding, find a purpose and need to carry on in unfamiliar territory. Here and now is the ultimate time for self exploration and understanding, in a time with so much less to hold your attention, to pull it away from what really matters, imagine all there is to learn about yourself.
Now is a better time than any to learn something new about your best friend and harshest critic. Feed that person the language you always meant to learn, the drawing class you always meant to take. Learn to laugh at the world again, because for all the seriousness it can be hilarious when it wants to be. Life is defined by what we choose to perceive it as…
And what is life to me?
Empty Inkwells and New Colours.
Yours, with love as always.