Thursday, June 9, 2011
Recently, I've found myself struggling a good deal with my "purpose" and identity. In some ways, I'm finally realizing why so many people throughout history have pursued the question of the meaning of life. After all, when you've spent the better part of three decades having this issue sorted out because of your religious system, things get pretty fuzzy once you leave that system behind.
What on earth am I doing here? What do I want my legacy to be? (Is that even a legitimate question?) What sort of work do I want to do? What is the "good life," and how will I live it?
These questions have begun, slowly, to haunt me. I thought I had things figured out, and that it wouldn't be too hard to de-Christianize some of my earlier motivations and presuppositions, and simply carry on with life as usual. Unfortunately, those foundations are too eroded, I think, for me to continue to build my life upon them. So what, then, am I to do?
I obviously don't have many answers to this; not yet, at least. When I was speaking to a friend a few days ago, the best thing I could come up with was this: I want to live in a way that promotes the thriving of humanity and of the earth. This is a huge commitment, with a lot of nuances and competing concerns, and I don't think this notion of "thriving" can carry the whole load of discerning my own purpose in life.
I suppose, too, that my wife would appreciate it—and, of course, I would too—if I oriented at least part of my purpose to love. In a lot of ways, these notions of thriving and love, one rather objectively determined and the other radically subjective, might offer a bit of balance to my life that either one alone couldn't. At any rate, they offer at least good starting points (though there's also the bit about figuring out what "love" means outside of a Christian worldview...).