"The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why." - Mark Twain
If someone were to ask you right now, point blank, the simple question: "why are you here?", what would you say? Would the answer come quickly, clearly, without hesitation? Or would you need to reflect, consider the various strands of your life, and possibly defer an answer?
I've spent a lot of time in that second camp, uncertain about what the best answer to the question might be. I've also spent a lot of time searching for the right answer.
I found the answer, my answer, on the other side of a breakdown. It took a confrontation with everything I didn't want in life to clearly define what I do want.
I was living the deferred life plan. I was putting off my "why" so that I could make ends meet, while hoping to work on what truly mattered to me sometime in the future.
Randy Komisar, the author of The Monk and the Riddle, captures this dilemma perfectly:
“And then there is the most dangerous risk of all- the risk of spending your life not doing what you want on the bet you can buy yourself the freedom to do it later.”
But, what if you don't know what you want? How do you find your "why"? How do you know it is the right "why"?
What worked for me: reflecting on my suffering and hardships. Painful experiences contain important life lessons. In difficult moments, I have discovered the power of asking: "what can I learn from this?"
Remember: Batman turned his biggest fear into his power and his identity.
So, if you are wondering where to start, start there. Make a list of the hard moments. Write about what makes you suffer and struggle. Write about the suffering and struggle you want to avoid at all costs. Then, write about what kind of suffering and struggle you would most want to face. Because there will be both. You can always count on that.
As Mark Manson puts it: "what shit sandwich do you want to eat?"
Ask yourself: what could I do forever? What things would I never stop working on?
And then, whatever it is, work on it. Deliberately. Purposefully. As if today could very well be the last time you do that thing.
Why am I here? To write, to work on myself, and to serve others.
Why are you here?