What is the meaning of life? How do we define the purpose of life? What entails a perfect life? These are some million-dollar questions that have been puzzling humanity for ages. People have relentlessly interpreted these questions in plenty of ways. These are not some abstract riddles that philosophers talk about.
I believe, as humans, we all encounter some conundrums that prompt us to look upon life philosophically. Even unintentionally, at some point, we all might have tried to figure out the purpose of our lives. It can be a meagre generalization. From an individual’s perspective, their decision on setting life goals or defining success reflects their interpretation of “how they intend to live their life” and “what purpose” they attribute to it. However, there is no single answer to these foundational queries.
My definition of life and its meaning is still a work in progress. It will likely be so forever. Here I am trying to hold on to my current answer to what the purpose of the enigma we call “life” is.
It’s all about perspectives.
We believe that our perception is correct and that those who disagree with us lack a comprehensive understanding and are thus mistaken. Could it be, perhaps, that the idea of “right” and “wrong” is a ploy and that everything boils down to perspective? And those two people can hold opposing viewpoints while still being equally correct. By showing curiosity, we can learn the other person’s perspective. We all have unique stories to share. I cannot undermine the life choices of a person who does not subscribe to the virtues I hold.
A person’s rights and wrongs are defined by their opinion or their understanding. The notion of the “purpose of life” is also true. Different people have different viewpoints on how to conduct their life. We can identify some dominant ideas that are often reflected in an individual’s choice of lifestyle. It can be idealistic, realistic, spiritual, materialistic, anarchic, nihilistic, or so. It is important to recognize that all these philosophical logics offer different interpretations of a single idea of life. Therefore, no approach is better or worse than the other. These are all alternatives that lead to a single destination.
Exploration is what life is all about. Actually, all that is happening is exploration everywhere. No matter which angle you take, exploring is the only option. Additionally, life simply tries to extend and prolong its investigation as it tries to grow and prolong itself. Exploration is the sole activity taking place at this time. Our body and intellect are only instruments for discovery. We investigate our reality by using our perceptions, emotions, and cognition. Our bodies and minds merely exist to understand the experiences we encounter.
“The goal of life is not the result of personal exploration; rather, living is the process of exploration.”
The goal of life is to live it, ultimate success is a hundred percent of what this means. However, personally, everyone takes up their journey differently. Our values, philosophies, experiences, and environment all have a decisive role in molding our path. So it is essential to accept the fact that the uniqueness of life lies in the diversity of individual explorations rather than the place it leads to.
Likewise, once we alter our standpoint towards humankind, we witness more or less the same phenomenon. Humans consistently think up, interact, converse, and try out fresh ideas. It’s how we operate. We create religions, set off on space exploration, pursue art, develop cultures, challenge our understanding, and make scientific discoveries to satisfy our wants. We can’t stop searching; it’s all we do.
Like evolution, exploration never comes to an end. You can keep shifting your viewpoint, and the result will remain the same. Everything is always changing because of this. Therefore, the idea that the goal of life is exploration holds true for the cosmos, the planet, civilization, and individuals.
Not a perfect life
No life is flawless. This notion appears obvious to us as we get older. And as we age, the more we recognize this to be true. Our current reality is far from ideal. Surprisingly, it has always been so. Our world produces both incredible beauty and immense suffering. Both people we know and people we’ve never met are affected by the inequality imposed on them by the world. The people we deal with are far from faultless.
In every culture, greed and selfishness are pervasive. Relationships suffer from prejudice and misunderstanding. Since the beginning of time, hatred and resentment have led to awful outcomes. And, frankly, neither are we. We are frequently tangled up in enticement and obsession. We struggled internally to act morally. And we are aware, down deep, that a plethora of undesirable impulses drive our choices and behaviours.
Life isn’t always flawless. It never was and never will be. But this might be a positive idea. It implies that we might abandon our search for the mystic, idyllic life. This means we can put an end to our pursuit of the ideal body, career, home, and partner. It implies that we are free to live with our flaws. In fact, the sooner we accept that there isn’t any such thing as perfection in this world, the sooner we may start living better lives in spite of the blemishes.
Consider what our continued imperfection means. Perhaps we might not keep searching for fulfilment in perfection. Satisfaction cannot be realized when everything around you is perfect—it simply cannot. Instead, it signifies that human beings are capable of enduring happiness and fulfilment despite fault. Because of our vulnerabilities, we can empathize with each other.
When we completely comprehend that everyone is flawed in some way, we can stop acting like we have everything under control. Instead, let’s start sharing vulnerable, sincere lives with one another. It is because of this vulnerability that we achieve so much cohesion and compassion.
We can state out loud that we need assistance. We can overcome these errors and defects with the aid of others. Our shortcomings can teach us how to become better. We can subdue imperfections by learning what we can from them. All of us retain regret from the past. While the past will always define the past, it does not have to define the present. As we begin to accept and identify our imperfections, we become more prepared to begin learning from them.
In essence, life seeks to expand and perpetuate itself. That’s why humanity is striving to secure the expansion and prolonging of its own existence.
We are all quite simply diverse life forms struggling to preserve their sustenance. We are all on this spiral trip, whether we are aware of it or not. There is no convergence of opinion when it comes to defining an ideal life or life’s purpose. Everybody lives their life up to their virtues and conscience. We all strive to bring the best out of the possibilities we encounter. That’s how human life progress, and that is how we live.
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About the Author
Anaina M Raj is a freelance writer and an avid observer of world politics. She tries to explore the alternative narratives and latent dimensions of interstate and intrastate relations. She holds MA in International Politics from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi. Her research interests include international security, geopolitics, IR theory, securitisation and foreign policy.