Finding One’s Voice
We lead multifaceted lives simultaneously. There exists a life surrounding us; there’s a life within us; a life we crave; a life we wish others to believe we possess, and a life we know is beyond our grasp, yet we strive indefatigably to reach it, even if only for a fleeting moment at the conclusion of our existence. Our lives are enveloped in complexities, and these compulsions urge us to flee—escape reality to the creations within our immediate means. Let’s ponder on this for a moment; what drives us to this? Is it the life we long for, or is it a life we wish to mould? Perhaps it’s something in between?
The peculiarity of this notion is our eternal uncertainty, yet we invest every fleeting second of our lives in pursuit of it. Are we engrossed in a grand game where the discovery of purpose, meaning, or even definition marks the end, and upon attaining it, everything ceases? Who can claim to know? Certainly, I cannot.
This yearning to possess, to triumph, to dominate, feeds a profound sense of insecurity that incessantly whispers, “Without ownership, who are you? Without control, you cease to exist, and if you’re not victorious, you’re not merely losing a wager but your very existence.” What do these thoughts signify? Again, I have no answers, merely a myriad of questions, some simple, some complex, all partially formed yet profoundly significant to me. My quest for meaning has been an extended, strenuous journey. I have desired various things at different stages of my life. I’ve sought existence, I’ve yearned for victory, but above all, I have longed to be of consequence. I believe that is the crux of it all: the desire to matter.
But to whom do we wish to matter? Towards what purpose? Why does it hold such importance? Those who fail to achieve enough exist just as those who succeed do. I mean, objectively speaking, if existence is defined by a beating heart and the warmth of breath, both tangible and intangible, both parties possess it. And yet, one is desirable, the other not. Why is this so?
Consider a world without the knowledge of victory? Without the notion of superiority in any aspect? What if our species had evolved without the idea of rank or label? What would our society resemble? Would we have failed to make the progress we have? A simplistic answer might be negative. But delve deeper, and you’ll see that inventors and creators don’t strive for rank; they engage in their craft out of sheer love for the ‘process’ of creation.
Is this ‘process’ of creation our true purpose? Who can say?
The circumstances of our birth bestow certain privileges and constraints, and we dedicate the remainder of our lives in their service. It is astonishing to realise that geographical locations decide more about our futures than almost anything else. It is not a wild notion that a child’s school is directly tied to what the parents can afford and the institutions they themselves attended. Everything is relative and interconnected, in an unending sequence where we are mere tools, threads in a plot where stories unfold. We are neither the script nor the performers, merely props. Who is the protagonist? Who directs it? Who funds this production? Is this entity known as destiny or God? Well, who indeed knows?
What is certain is that most people’s life goals are not of their own design but products of societal conditioning. They desire to feel victorious, in control, in the game. They want to believe they craft their destiny. These individuals dismiss the butterfly effect, and why shouldn’t they? They likely own the flower from which the butterfly draws its sustenance.
I find myself contemplating a life devoid of the need to possess, win, or control. Is it possible to conceive an identity free from material goods? Imagine a world without names or identity, where everyone roams anonymously. No information about education or occupation. No addresses. Not a nomadic existence, but a contained society devoid of identity and ownership concepts.
Would it resemble a monastic life? Mind you, monks have names as well.
For clarity, envision humanity living akin to the animal kingdom. Imagine we were squirrels, nameless, without a specific branch to rest, devoid of collective identity beyond being classified as squirrels. Would the nut retain its flavour? Would our lifespan be as it is now, laden with titles, estates, stocks, vehicles, and all we claim as ours?
The answer is affirmative; life for that squirrel wouldn’t alter, and it’s essential to acknowledge that the squirrel has never known any other life, so it cannot compare its existence to another form.
This truth applies equally to us, the species that claims to be the most intelligent on the planet. Or so we’ve declared without genuinely assessing the intelligence of all other species. Arrogance, too, is part of the identity we forge. We are indeed a curious species if you reflect upon it.
These profound questions may forever elude answers, but we do possess one consolation: our voice. We can disseminate our thoughts, envisage alternate realities, reason, refute, and aspire to shape a world distinct from the one we were born into.
I’m not promoting asceticism; indeed, be the monk who owns a Ferrari after possessing a private jet, provided the monk’s identity isn’t tethered to these luxuries, or as long as the monk doesn’t need an identity to exist.
Reflect on this; we build sand castles at the beach, only for the waves to return them to formless mounds, but the sand remains the same, whether on the beach or shaped into a castle. Its intrinsic nature is unaltered. The sand is significant whether on the beach or in the castle.
The sand possesses a voice, independent of identity, and I urge you to seek that voice, freeing you from the snare of identity.
Until we cross paths again!