The secret to survival is finding conceivable reasons to continue on. We've come up with so many of them: schedules, jobs, religion, familial obligations - each of these intended to be grounding in their own way.
Yet, is surviving equivalent to a life worth living? Just as some may say that living is incomparable to existing, I argue there is a difference between the two.
So if there is a difference, then how can we begin to define life? Should we define existing as a means of keeping on, and surviving as a means of enabling ourselves to stay strong, then how on earth can we begin to perceive the center of it all?
Simply enough, I have found that life is best viewed from a multitude of equally exhausting perspectives.
1. Life is a never ending incline.
As such, it leads us to continually question our progress. Where are we now, and how can we make it to the next step? We use calendars to mark our progress and journals to set our goals, but rarely do we take time to reflect on the why behind these actions. Why are we so driven to grow?
In no way do I believe our human desire to develop ourselves is a negative one. However, I see where this drive can become viral, infecting us from the inside and creating toxicity wherever we touch. When it comes to growth, is it more important to look ahead or reflect on the past?
I myself am guilty of spending too much time, either looking back or planning to go forward, yet not enough taking next steps.
In this way, life is a never ending mountain, and we’re all on a journey to the top. Each individual has their own staircase to conquer, their own benchmarks to overcome. Will these be good enough to compete with everyone else? And does that truly matter?
2. Life is a series of ebbs and flows, as we exist through each transition.
Life goes on, while we get caught in the mix.
Is there a way to get ahead of this? Or is the solution to accept life as is?
Go with the flow, rather than fighting against it, and find an existence that works for you. Just keep swimming, they say.
Ebb and flow with the signs of the tide.
Don't be too hard on yourself.
Perhaps these are the keys to a life worth living.
3. Life is a fight, as you struggle to overcome each obstacle, you learn more about yourself.
Pick your battles, such a popular phrase. The problem here, is the mere fact that your existence is centered around one complex puzzle. It waits to be solved, throwing obstacles your way as you attempt it.
Once you've overcome one feat, there’s another lying in the midst. Can we ever be happy when there are perpetual hurdles waiting to be knocked down?
At least these jaded lenses allow for self-reflection in the glass. Fall, learn, get back up, keep learning - such is the cycle of our soul, as we flow in and out of mind-frames.
4. Life is a cycle of existence, life repurposes our souls.
This idea appears in many religions and spiritual practices around the globe. We are recycled souls, appearing in the world, time and time again. We exist for a life beyond our own. We exist with the mindset that our actions today will affect our life in some future tomorrow.
Who knows right from wrong? I can't say I exist for a version of me that has yet to come, but that doesn't quite stop me from behaving kindly now. What is it that requires some to hinge their behavior on a future reward?
Is life worth living if you don't enjoy your time?
5. Life, our life, is but a blip on the line of time.
On the flip side, we could view life individually. Each of us is an infinitesimal spec in a not so flat petri dish of bacteria. What is the point of us trying to be great, when there will always be something greater?
Alternatively, why should we fear any decision, if our choices don’t matter on a larger scale?
Either of these views could be productive or destructive, depending on your intentions. Still, it is nice to remind yourself of the fact that there is greater. We are not the top of the food chain, and we are not the most significant beings to come.
The world will not end after we destroy it. 'Tis a tale told over time, but remember how we began? The world is in a continuous phase of rebirth, our existence is only slowing this. In reality, we're ruining ourselves.
6. Life is embodied, but a fuller life requires connection beyond our being.
The purpose of life is to live. It's as simple as that.
What is living? Here, it is extending beyond our bodies, and connecting with greater energies than ourselves.
It is reminding ourselves that we are more than our physical presence. We are not our conversations, or our appearance, but rather our energies. We are defined by the way we make others feel.
What is the meaning of life? The point is to touch souls and find a sense of belonging. It is a search to transcend our single selves.
7. Life is absurd.
This view is my favorite by far.
Life doesn’t make sense. Living has no true rules. You could argue existence requires reminding that you exist, and survival needs key functions: eating, breathing, sleeping, to be fulfilled. However, life asks nothing beyond being lived.
The semblance of order we effect around ourselves would crumble if everyone agreed on this version of the truth. Life is hard because we make it so, yet it would be difficult to live in today's world without succumbing to these man-made vices. We continue to construct box-shaped boundaries around the free flowing incentives that surround us.
Is this why we find it difficult to "take a break"? Why relaxation is viewed as distraction and unproductivity has become a key bane?
In the face of absurdity, there is no method to the madness, no way to overcome the strife, but to exist and to accept that nothing is sensible. Nothing is real.
8. Life is but a dream.
Again, I'll claim that life is unreality. It's something none of us can truly understand.
How did we get here? Why do we exist? And how can we explain the beginning of anything? Anything beyond ourselves.
If you believe in big bang, tell me where those atoms came from. Religion? Who created God?
That was always my favorite question to ask at church, because no one had the answers for it. I won't even get into the debate I had about dinosaurs being real. To this day, when i think of them in context of that moment, I still feel uncertainty. Forget paleontology, right?
The power of thoughts is astounding.
Call me cynical, but I have every reason to believe that life is not what it seems.
9. Life is predefined.
Control is an illusion.
There is no control in a world of order. Arguably, nor is there control in a world of disorder.
The course of life was set in stone, and there is little we can do to change it. Every action, reaction, and proactive choice we make is part of the process. All you can do is live out your end.
Work, fight, and create the results you’re seeking, but know they have already been decided for you, long in advance.
Isn't that a fascinating point of view? Leaves a lot of room for contemplation.
10. Life is survival.
My final touchpoint is a little food for thought. This whole time I have been arguing that living and surviving are not one in the same. What if they are?
Are we the compass for these terms? Does the way we choose to live change the way we can define living, surviving, existing, on their own?
We are the lives we live. We are the stories that can be written on paper, about Mary, Jane, and Ashleigh. We are each the product, sum, total, whatever you pronounce, of an existence properly conquered.
Survival is defined differently for each person.
For me, survival is structure. Motivation to get through each day, a way to avoid lazing away, and a key to stepping into the future. Survival is embracing absurdity, and allowing yourself to be absurd anyway. It is looking through the haze of a dream, and allowing yourself to act in the play. Life is understanding that you will be nothing in some future generation’s history, but becoming something anyway.
Life is survival, but survival doesn’t always make sense.
Bonus: "Life rhymes, but not in the way you’d expect."
This view comes straight from my most recent read, Turtles All the Way Down, by John Green. It is a brilliant book, actually. The ending isn't quite satisfying, in that it wasn't the ending I expected. However, I think it's an ending that's still worth the read.
I know John Green gets a lot of shit for not being the most "brilliant" writer, but that's really not the point of his books. I enjoyed Turtles All the Way Down for its reliability, and for the beautiful writing - texts within texts, that inspired me to be more true to my own style of writing on this blog.
You can borrow Turtles All the Way Down as an ebook from your local library, on Overdrive. And as you read, definitely tune in to more "life is" statements that appear throughout the text.