Michael Battalio


Thursday, August 19, 2010

Serious conversations (part 19):

        This series is a continuation of my conversations with an atheist friend of mine. We began with religion and have now moved onto many other things. These are my edited responses from that conversation. The nineteenth entry deals with deciding upon a purpose in life:

        I think that it is useless to plan out your entire life, but I wonder how much you should plan out, what is prudent and what is excessive.  Obviously at some point plans will become meaningless because they are so far in the future, and there are entirely too many variables to be considered. Even the most carefully thought out plans are lacking at some point in the future. However, short term plans are very useful. They help steer and guide so that you aren’t lost in the tedium of day to day activities. You should take heed of how you feel and what you’re thinking about and allow that to be your guide. And if at some point, despite your best efforts, you’ve found that you’ve taken a misstep, you can always go take a few steps back and continue. The beauty of life is that you can always change your mind.
        While I don’t think you need to have an ultimate goal or accomplishment in mind, I do think everyone needs a purpose in life. If that purpose is to figure out what your purpose is then that is fine, but really living a contemplative life, one of the things I think leads to happiness, means trying to figure out what your purpose is and then acting out that purpose.  However, your purpose doesn’t have to be some lofty ideal.  I believe that loosely my purpose if several fold:  One, my first purpose is to be happy, not a just a physical happy, but a psychological happy as well.  Two, a purpose of thought, to be self aware and constantly questioning what it is I believe and do, and if this questioning leads me away or towards religion then so be it.  Three, to return what I have been given (whether by divinity or chance or fate) to the people around me, that can be through my talents, actions, personality, and words - to make other people around me better off and happier than they were.
        Perhaps your purpose could be achieving set ambitions and goals.  Perhaps it doesn’t matter as long as you are determined to figure out what that purpose is eventually.  I for one know that I always feel very fulfilled when I do critically think about my existence.

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