Sunday, November 18, 2012

Living IS the point.

I got this in an email from a friend. He's been depressed lately, and he's trying to figure out why (and how to get over it.)
"I think the root of the whole problem is that I don't have a good answer to the question, "What's the point?" It seems to me that we're born, and then we live and then we die. It seems so unfair. Makes me want to cry.

So, I'm wondering if you've answered that question. If so, what's your answer? More importantly, what has been your process to answer that question? I know my answer will be different than yours, so while I'm interested in your answer, I'm much, much more interested in your process (assuming you've taken the time to answer that question since leaving the church)."
What's the point?

My only thought: LIVING is the point. We're born. We LIVE.

And the process I followed to get that answer?
I really didn't have to answer the question AFTER I left the church, because leaving was just part of the process.

As a member of the church, I was told what the point and purpose to my life should be. I was told "the plan", and I was told that plan was the ONLY plan that would bring happiness in this life and the next. I was told I was lucky to know "the plan", because most people on the planet don't know.

I didn't feel lucky... I felt like a square peg trying to force myself into a round hole. I felt depressed and anxious and miserable. So many things that I'd been taught just didn't make sense to me. The reality I saw didn't fit the ideals that I'd heard. I spent my life doing a list of things TRYING to make my life happy, but the list just made me more and more miserable.

Much of "the plan" left me feeling miserable and hopeless in this life, but there was always the idea that if I just "endured", then at least the next life wouldn't be so bad. For a while, I dreamed of dying, because at least death would mean "going home" to a place where I felt safe and loved and happy.

One of the most important moments in my life was when I realized that if I was miserable trying to be in the church today, what would make me think I would be happy living this plan for all eternity? Everything I'd been taught about the Celestial Kingdom just made me believe it would be MORE of the temple. MORE church. MORE of the worst kinds of members. (I actually said, "If that's who is going to be in heaven, send me to HELL!") More of the things that made this life feel barely bearable.

The day I realized that death wouldn't bring me to the happiness I wanted, I started taking responsibility for finding happiness today. I stopped dreaming of death, because I wanted to find a way to live.

One of my therapy assignments was to list my passions and values. (They asked for the top three... but since it's my blog, I don't have to follow their rules.)
Exploring. Learning new things. Discovering new places.
Love. Loving myself. Loving others. Loving the world around me. Loving what I do. Finding things, people, places that I love.
Nature/Spirituality. Being in the places that I feel most at peace (mountains). Finding the connection that I have to the world I live in. Following the deepest part of myself.
Leadership and Integrity. Being ME. Showing others that it is okay to be themselves through my willingness to be me. Facing my fears, so others will know they can too. Being open and honest, so others won't feel as alone, and so I won't feel so alone.
Change. Making the world a better place. Using my voice and my talents to improve the world. NOT for some grand reward in the next life, but just because I CAN.

So, what's the point?

Talk to friends. Watch TV. Play the violin. Ride a horse. Eat salmon tacos. Count the blades of grass. Watch the clouds in the sky. Go fishing. Drive. Write a book. Read a book. Play a game. Kiss someone you love. Watch a child grow. Decorate your house. Buy new furniture. Watch an ant carry a crumb. Work. Make a living. Find a way to contribute to the world around you. Smile. Cry. Laugh. Hate. Love. Think. Play the piano. Sing. Dance. Go scuba diving. Feel the rain on your cheeks. Splash in the puddles. Go rock climbing. Sit on the porch. Take a nap in the hammock. Watch a lightening storm. Go for a walk. Play with a goat. Train a dog. Pet a cat. Grow out your hair. Cut it short. Go to school. Family. Talk to someone older than you. Talk to someone younger than you. Watch a child learn. Listen to music. Paint a picture. Create a sculpture. Go on a cruise. Write letters. Invent something that has never been invented. Sleep. Memorize a poem. Share ideas. Catch a snake. Try new foods. Watch the snow fall. Study each flake. Smell the clean clothes when you take them out of the dryer. Smell the sweat when you work hard. Feed the horses. Fix the fences. Get hurt. Heal. Sit by the fireplace. Take pictures. Listen to the birds. Watch ice form and melt. Play chess. Write a program. Plant a garden. Learn to play the guitar. Think about learning to play the guitar, but never take the dang thing out of it's case. Disagree. Hug. Feel. Just BE.

See what you can see. Learn what you can learn. Live as much as you can live.
And one day, die... and then find out whatever it is that comes next.


  1. Yes, exactly. Thanks for this this thoughtful post. This reminds me of a guy I heard speak in Seattle a few weeks ago. Not long ago, he was depressed and asking the same question. He decided that perhaps the answer to the question didn't matter as much as taking the leap to *live* our lives wholeheartedly. So he made a bucket list, tattooed an arbitrary date on his body, and decided to "make his purpose" be simply completing his bucket list. Of course, it's blossomed into more than that but it all started with a list. Here's his blog:

  2. The part that jumped out at me was: if I was miserable trying to be in the church today, what would make me think I would be happy living this plan for all eternity?

    I had never put into words how I felt while I was in the church, but when I read that line it resonated so soundly with my experience. Thank you for sharing this. I am touched!

    I love you.

  3. You are so wise. Thank you for sharing this. I wanted to write a long thoughtful response, but have decided instead to go do something to "LIVE" for the next thirty minutes before I have to go to work. I love your last lines:

    See what you can see. Learn what you can learn. Live as much as you can live.
    And one day, die... and then find out whatever it is that comes next.