“Ambal, why do you write?”
That is a very tough question to answer. It is sort of like asking me “Why do you climb mountains?” The answers are so multi-dimensional. It is hard to capture them all.
But, since you asked, here is my attempt to answer the “Why do you write?” question.
2. Finding Meaning
“Ultimately, man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather must recognize that it is he who is asked. In a word, each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life; to life he can only respond by being responsible. It did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us. We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life, and instead to think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life—daily and hourly. Our answer must consist, not in talk and meditation, but in right action and in right conduct. Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual.”
― Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning
We came. We are here. We will be gone. In between that time that we came and we leave, we live, we thrive and we try to find meaning.
When we are little we want to grow up. When we grow up, we look back on life with nostalgia. And just when it feels like we have gotten the hang out of this wild ride, it is time to leave the party. Funny, is it not?
We chase everything possible that could be chased. We chase goals – work goals, personal goals, fitness goals, health goals, relationship goals and more. In between all this mad rush and chasing, we try to find ourselves. We try to find meaning in this chaos called life.
Since childhood, I have been chasing many dreams too. I have also been chasing many questions. Who am I? Why I am here? What am I doing? What is my purpose?
And I have done many things to find answers to these questions – I have read voraciously on life and the meaning of life. I have practiced meditation. I have tried to live life to the fullest. I have tried to give my 100% to every moment as it passes. I have done all this and more.
One of my favorite books on this topic of finding purpose and meaning is Viktor E. Frankl’s, Man’s Search for Meaning. In this book, psychologist Viktor Frankl describes his life as a prisoner in two different concentration camps during the Holocaust.
Viktor Frankl is the founder of logo therapy – from the Greek work logos, or meaning.
The following list of tenets represents basic principles of logo therapy:
- Life has meaning under all circumstances, even the most miserable ones.
- Our main motivation for living is our will to find meaning in life.
- We have freedom to find meaning in what we do, and what we experience, or at least in the stand we take when faced with a situation of unchangeable suffering.
I am old enough now to trust my gut and perception on what is helping me find meaning.
Here is the one thing that has helped me find meaning – Writing. Because, writing makes me slow down from the mad rush of life. Writing makes me reflect on life and life experiences. Writing helps me document both momentous and meaningless moments. Writing makes me cognizant of myself and the world around me. Writing makes me kind to myself and to others. Writing makes me positive. Writing makes me find meaning.
Most of us grow up and become lost. Writing has been my savior. Writing has saved me from getting lost. Writing has helped me pick up the pieces of my past. Writing has helped me connect the dots backwards (as Steve Jobs would say it).
Despite my persistent and passionate search for meaning, I am very guilty of leading a fast paced life. I need to constantly tell myself to live every moment, and to give my all to that moment. To be in the NOW.
If there is one lost soul on this planet that I can urge to find meaning, one fast paced person (like me) that I can urge to stop and smell the roses, one person on this planet to live through every moment completely….just ONE…then all my effort in trying to find meaning and writing would have been worth it.
Hence, I write.
To find meaning.
By the time I am done, every one of those people who have urged me to be brave and to keep seeking and every one of those people who ever told me a story about their quest to find meaning is going to be so proud of what you (the reader) and I have accomplished together.
Are you ready for the ride?
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
– Ulysses, by Alfred, Lord Tennyson