What is the point of life?
I’m asking this because, well, useful to know. And also as a coach who is supposed to help people get better at this life business, I would like to know what I am doing.
Until quite recently I was on a very clear, logical journey. The point of school was to get to a good university. The point of a good degree was a good first job. The point of a good first job was a better second job. The point of the better second job was an even better third job. The point of a sequence of better jobs was to save enough for a good retirement and then… what….? [sound of brakes squealing as the whole thing comes to a screeching halt]… Uh oh.
I’d been living as though the point of living is to fix my gaze on the future until the curtain comes down.
If the point of this minute is to set myself up for a great next minute (which will never come because I am only ever living in this minute), I am living in order to die.
Death cannot be the point of life.
The point of life has to exist, therefore, in this moment.
So the question becomes: what can we do in this one moment that will give point to our life right now?
Two beautiful quotes help us here: Philip Pullman said “the point of life is to bring about more consciousness”. And Henry Miller said that “the aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware, joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware.”
Two other quotes take us a bit further: The point of life is, according to John Burnside, the poet, “The shedding of illusions” and to Oscar Wilde, “To realise one’s own nature perfectly”.
Which leads us to the questions: Who are we really? What is our true nature? What are the illusions?
But we know this already.
We have all had those moments when we see our truth.
Perhaps when we gaze into the eyes of a new born, or when we learnt how to walk, talk or ride a bike. Or when we see an elderly couple holding hands on the train. Or when we have done something that scared us. Or when we were so absorbed in something we almost stopped breathing. Or when we created something that seemed to come from nowhere. Or when we saw the sun set or the inside of a rose or the night sky. The moments when we are in love with the world, in love with ourself. When we are an awareness of the creative, loving miracle of life.
That’s who we are.
And those moments when we are aware of it, we feel magnificent and humble, unique and connected, supernatural and natural, truthful and beyond truth, alive and larger than life. We know from the absolute rightness of this feeling that this is who we really are.
We also know from the ill-feeling in our body and mind when we are clinging to illusion. I’m worried. The world is harsh. He doesn’t love me. I don’t love her. I’m not enough. I’m flawed. I’m inadequate. I’m despicable. I am limited. I mess things up. My future is bleak.
All illusions and we know they are because they feel so wrong. They sit so badly with us that everything feels out of joint.
The only thing that ever gets in the way of ‘realising our own nature perfectly’ are those ‘illusions’ created by what we are thinking and believing right now in this moment. We can let those go.
Who cares if we didn’t remember this yesterday or whether we will remember it tomorrow.
All that matters is that we can be ‘joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely’ aware of who we are, right now.
This is the point of life.
No journey necessary.