Deciphering Fully Living (aka The Meaning of Life)

I recently watched Soul and, man what a movie!

A movie that makes you sad, angry, and perhaps nihilistic. Some get inspired by the message, and others get annoyed. But there is a message and no matter how you perceive it and understand, it's a message that touches and changes you.

What is that message? The purpose of living or the meaning of life or whatever the hell you want it to call is simply living. The main character, while attempting to find his “purpose”, Joe Gardner refuses to believe this and says, "Walking or sky-watching aren't purposes, that's just ordinary life." 

But ask yourself this, How about if we’re looking for the wrong thing? What about if we don't know what we're looking for?

Dorothea, the famous musician whom Joe wanted to play for, had a powerful analogy about a fish who wanted to find the ocean, but little did he know he was already in the water [1]. 

Dorothea: What’s wrong, teach?

Joe: It’s just I’ve been waiting on this day for my entire life. I thought I’d feel different.

Dorothea: I heard this story about a fish. He swims up to this older fish and says, “I’m trying to find this thing they call the ocean.” “The ocean?” says the older fish, “that’s what you’re in right now.” “This?” says the younger fish, “This is water. What I want is the ocean.”

It's not that we're looking for the wrong thing or we're asking the wrong questions, it's just that the question has been answered and the answer was, is, and will be your life. The purpose of life is living. 

Joseph Campbell had a similar understanding of the meaning of life and explained:

The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe, to match your nature with Nature [2].

Life has no meaning. Each of us has meaning and we bring it to life. It is a waste to be asking the question when you are the answer [3].

Living, my friends. Nothing more, nothing less. Such a simple answer to a “complex and unsolvable question.” 

When people feel disconnected and ask “the meaning of life” questions, they forget what it means to live, and they forget the purpose is living and letting others live. Nothing better, nothing worse.

We will die soon. Our family, our friends, and our memories all will be gone. Everything that existed, exists and will exist, everything and everything that everything was, is, and will be simply....gone. 

Like it or not, life will be gone. It's a cycle, we must not be sad or depressed, but we must act like a soul because a soul doesn't feel, smell, or touch but a soul can see and decipher what it means to be living and to realize the purpose of life plain old living.

It's not what we expected because we expect something else, we expect to be great and to be something. But fuck being something! The world and life don't give a rat's motherfucking ass about your aspirations or goals or heck stupid ambition. Think of yourself less, not less of yourself, as CS Lewis once said. 

That way, you can start fully living. Fully living is something no one knows but yourself. Before you get the Christopher Columbus spirit and start finding something that you won't find, instead try to create that life by following your instinct and your intuition of fully living and living fully. 

What does it mean to fully live? No one fucking knows but you know, and all you have to is listen, listen to that voice, clean the cluttered, and trust those gut feelings because they will make sense. “You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward” as Steve Jobs reflected. You have to follow and trust, but trust, really trust.

But realizing what it means to fully live isn't the hardest part. The hardest part is to ignore all the distractions of earth, the ungodly feelings of ego, envy, and anger, and trust yourself that everything will work out how it's supposed to work out, not to what you think or other people think it's supposed to work. What the heck do they know about living? What the hell do they know about fully living? and what the fuck do they know about fully living your life?

How did I write this? I don't know, and I trusted words would come after I wrote the first one. I felt inspired after watching an animated movie which got me in the “zone” to write it and maybe share it with others. 

But I have to go because I have to begin fully living. 

I'll see you on the other side. 




[1] Quote from the movie, Soul.

[2] Excerpt from Joseph Campbell, A Joseph Campbell Companion: Reflections on the Art of Living.

[3] Excerpt from Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth.

I wrote a similar essay about why being ambitious is about fully living.

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Tags: philosophy