The movie “Soul” came to my mind constantly — it easily ranks as one of the most relatable stories on my list.
The quirky and pessimistic side of 22 speaks to my inner ascetic character. However, phenomenologically speaking, my drive and passion for life are very distinctive from 22 — rather than living in a void and lack of meaningful pursuits, I encounter myself on the opposite end of the spectrum. I’m curious about almost everything on this earth. I had multiple dreams when I was little. Seeking a purpose is never difficult for me — I have too many.
It’s almost like a default “function” for me to look for role models to emulate. I’m continually eager to learn from people (their ups and downs) and become closer to their version of success.
Then, I realized it’s a sign of laziness if I followed successful examples aimlessly. Everyone pursues a productive life nowadays, not to mention how many definitions assign to the word “productive.” I assume the hidden drive to becoming effective in every aspect of life is to get ahead of others.
This doesn’t sound right to me.
I took some time to contemplate my drive to live an advanced life — what does it mean? And what will it lead me to?
It’s sad and shocking to unfold the underneath purpose of my self-improvement trajectory. I chase productivity just as money seekers delude themselves with a never-achieving mountain peak. (Confession: I used to disdain the latter).
No purpose is better than the other. What’s significant is to refine your definition of purpose.
Too many people live identical patterns of life. I tried very hard to distinguish myself from those people. It’s almost an innate calling — I refuse to look and think like others. Living in a collective and somewhat “controversial” society adds more chaos to my self-actualization path. However, I envisaged a micro-world (navigate through my unique life approach) under the macro-environment.
When I looked out and pursued western role models, I realized I was lying to myself about being different. I didn’t want to be idiosyncratic. What I wanted was to be recognized on a certain level of sophistication. This concept sounds as pretentious as it can be.
Then I asked myself — do I sincerely want to live a life set by successful examples? I don’t think so. Copying an existing pattern doesn’t amount to creativity, no matter how productive it looks.
A liberating idea emerged this morning: if someone is already living my “dream life,” isn’t that an apparent reason I shouldn’t be chasing in the same lane? As counter-intuitive as it sounds, I have to blot out the “dream” part and keep the “life” part as open as possible.
Avoiding pain or fixing ineffective phases in life is not an attitude I want to carry on (though I’ve vigorously attempted to do so). I want to have a conscious yet not deliberate purpose of living my life, not borrow definitions from the people I admire (it’s impossible anyway), but to embrace my imperfections and allow serendipity to happen without a prerequisite rundown.
That said, the future should be an open book for me. The unknown time is not to fulfill my then dreams or instant definition of a successful life; instead, it is an unbiased spatial-temporal place for me to explore, discover, fail, and learn.