to have meaning in life, you have to know yourself

Do you ever ask yourself the question: what am I all about?

And based on that question – where do you find ‘you’ – how do you define yourself? Where do you draw your conclusions?

I’d been thinking about this question due to a random conversation with a well-traveled friend, on traveling, good food, love, life and just about everything else under the sun.

I found myself enthused to speak to her due to her worldly nature – it is something we both share. I dare to say, we don’t see the world from our ‘parts’ of it, but we see the world as a whole, closed, functioning system. The earth as far as we know, is all that exists to be habitable by human beings. And our roles are the thinkers, the problem solvers, those people who want to solve something in order to improve the world’s daily functioning.

A few things I’ve realized is that – what happens on the other side of the world is no longer something distant – the fact that most flights take under 24 hours is something to be noted – because we live in a world where mobility is easily accessible and gentrification in large cities are erasing old customs (this has both pros and cons of course) – for example, my friend was a tinge disappointed in the ‘development’ in Asian countries that erased some cultural gems and that the push for economic growth had severely polluted the environment.

Once again, it made me realize that everything carries a cost and things are fast changing, the coming years will be challenging and a lot of the issues that ought to be dealt with now are being put on the back-burner for more ‘urgent’ issues – of course there’s always going to be issues – but a lot of pre-existing issues have been put on the back-burner for so long that it’s already having long lasting effects…

And I feel like, in our conversations, we discussed everything. Pulling from historical examples, and comparing them in a cross-cultural perspective, we aren’t too optimistic about what’s going to happen – but then we also realize there’s not much choice to be had here, we could only do our part and contribute and hope all of our desires and efforts would be realized one day.

No. I don’t mean desires as in material goods.

But having our desires realized, like seeing certain places on the planet before they’re lost forever, and always be in service of others, always aim to connect, always learn through the exchange of new ideas, take on new perspectives (because without connections and perspectives and values, who would you be? Remember that question, how do you define yourself?)

I define myself by my memories, values and thoughts.

Yes, I define myself by my being knowledgable and passionate on certain topics and completely indifferent in others.

My friend is like a mirror – through her I’m starting to see all the pieces of a puzzle I’d never been able to make sense fall into place and what is painted is what I’ve struggled to define in all these years.

Our conversations had me go on and on about things I care about, and give no more than an one word answer to things I don’t. Our conversations had made me realize why at age 19 I tried to pick up a language that would be of no use to me in North America…it was kind of my way of exploration without having to go anywhere – after all, a major component of culture is language, after history and many of its intricate customs. Our conversations made me realize the things that mattered to me before anything else and because of those things, my life has meaning, because of those things I have things to look forward to.


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