The Purpose of Things

Being someone who wants to feel everything in life means that some days feel dark. Some days, I question the meaning of life and wonder why I’m here. It’s not so much that I want to die, but sometimes living becomes incredibly difficult and I want to just sleep for a while.

Living in an advanced society, people pursue things. They fangirl over the hottest heartthrob or collect every Batman comic in existence. A lot of people make their life about money, about having not only lots of things, but the coolest and newest things. And yet, they’re so miserable. Men cheat on their wives because they are looking for something they’ve lost long ago. Women lose themselves in food, teenagers rebel because they don’t want to be like their parents, but they end up similarly unhappy in the pursuit of things.

In my life, I’ve noticed that this misery comes over me when I try to live up to this societal ideal of having all of the things. How am I going to make all the time or money to get all of these things? What’s wrong with me that I can’t get everything I want?

And then I step back. I don’t need all of these things. There are still people in the world who don’t have running water or electricity. They don’t know where their next meal will come from or if they will be alive tomorrow. Many of my problems seem completely invalid when compared to people that live in extreme poverty (something I think I have never experienced, even though comparatively I have lived in poverty).

I’ve noticed that when I stop pursuing things and start pursuing ideas, my life has meaning again. Sure, I need money to eat and the means to have electricity and the internet. But for the past few years if not longer, my needs are met. I don’t live paycheck to paycheck, I may not have a lot of money, but I have enough. I live in comfort and I like my comfort. It’d be nice to keep living in comfort, but even if I couldn’t I don’t think I would be as pained as others would.

However, breaking away from the way society thinks we should do things is much more difficult than it seems. For the past few years, I am trying to live my life outside the bounds of what society says I should do and it is so difficult. I’m trying to eat better, but when society emphasizes chasing things, doing things to make a lot of money there’s little time to make healthy food or exercise. Some people even look down on it, even though they know it’s good for you. People that go organic are called granolas and other people scoff at them. Society has made it basically impossible for you to eat well if you have little to no income.

At least for the past few weeks, I’ve made a commitment to live the way I need to live. To not take heed when someone is offended by my actions. But when so many people around you live a certain way, you almost need to become outcast in order to live in the way you feel is right.

I’m starting my last year of college in a few weeks. I don’t want to graduate and get a job that encourages me to pursue things and forget how to think. I want to help people. I want to make sure that people have what they need. I want to work with a non-profit that helps people eat, or gives them running water. I want to know that I’m making a difference.

I need to help people. Whether that be through my words or actions, I’ve know that I need to make a visible change in someone’s life. And things often just get in the way. I don’t think I can live as a minimalist, but I’m going to work to live with less.

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