Defining [Your] Life

How do you define life?  Some people define it as gift, either a gift from parent to child, from a deity, or from both.  I personally think life is neither a parental nor divine gift; in fact, I don’t think it’s a gift at all.  I believe that calling life a “gift” creates a foolish implication of purpose, which I don’t believe it has.  Maybe that’s the cynical scientist in me dismissing any thoughts of a divine intention, but I think life is simply an evolutionary mechanism of continuing a species.  Why are there species and why do they prosper with the intentions of constantly maintaining and increasing that prosperity?  I never associate life or lifeforms with purpose, but merely niches.  I think there is no reason species drive for success apart from the chance of their existence and the fact that survivors have continuing survivor genes.

From my perspective, I’m here, I didn’t plan it, it’s socially unaccepted for me to make a choice of when I leave, and all I have left is to exist during the time that I will be here.  I feel like most people probably prefer not to think that way.  It’s blunt, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true.  But if I’m here by chance, and I have no choice on the end, what is there left for the time in between?  This is my next point: Life isn’t just about defining life itself and what others expect of you and the world around us; it’s also about deciding what choice you want to make for you and no one else.

I have a lot of things I still want to do in my life, like see the Nazca lines and find someone who wants to be my crazy teammate in life… Yet, if I were to die tomorrow, I can confidently say that my life has already been more fulfilling than that of many people I know, especially other 22-year-olds.  This fulfillment is due to my personal definition of life and how I’ve managed to adhere to my own rules for living.

I’ve never been one to outright slander someone for diverging from societal beliefs of right and wrong.  I don’t think the world is black and white like that, straight down the middle.  I also disagree that there really is such as thing as rigtht or wrong.  As with the notions that life is a “gift” and that everyone and everything serves some alterior “purpose”, I find “rights” and “wrongs” as wishful thinking, hoping, and desperation for directional security and social safety.  Instead of using mainstream models by which to live my life, I choose to create my own set of ideals.  I follow these ideals by merely the motivation of my own being striving to be something better for myself, not under the looming threat of a greater force, like a god, and without fear of standing apart from others.

I want to see as much of the world as I possibly can.  I want to understand everything that I see and to feel it, sensually and culturally, to really grasp it.  I want to learn everything; for I believe that living is learning.  I want to learn so that I can dismiss any and all fears, naivete.  Life is my race against time to see, do, feel, experience, touch, taste, breathe, try all of these things.  I would rather die trying to live than die never having lived at all.

This way of thinking has enabled me to dabble in everything I can possibly lay my hands on.  I’ve competed in or at least attempted probably three dozen sports (from Scottish Highland Dancing to mushing), I’ve learned or taught myself almost twenty instruments (from bagpipes to banjo), and I’ve studied and competed in a dozen kinds of art and crafts (from oil on canvas to latch hook pillow-making).  I’ve studied about eleven languages, visited three continents with another planned this summer, and even represented Team USA in the Junior Olympics since I was 15.  I’m an avid reader of survivalism books and have confidence in my ability to take care of myself.  There are so many things I have done that the list could bore anyone to death.  But the purpose of this is not to brag, it’s to demonstrate that, in 22 years, I have accomplished this much.  I spent the first 5 of those 22 years not doing much of anything.  What can I do with the rest of my life?  What can anyone do with the rest of his or her life?

I wish to keep living my life just as I am now, where I see, do, and am everything I possibly can be and to the best of my ability.  It is for no one’s benefit but my own, and to my own satisfaction.  But if there is one thing I can add to the way I live my life, I would like to add purpose – a purpose more significant to the planet than just my own personal gratifactions.  I’m still finding how to do that.  I’ll walk up my stairs in the dark to save energy each day – that helps the environment.  I’ve rescued animals and nursed them back to health – that helps outside species.  I’ve tutored and consoled many people before – that helps society.  But there has to be more I can do.  I hope to fill that void with my career choices over the next several years.

That all being said, how do you define life?  How do you define yours?  Think about it.  It doesn’t matter what age you are, reflecting on it now will keep you from using “should’ve” in your sentences later…