When we’re lost without purpose, days seem to go by without seams. There is nothing separating one purposeless day from the next. It’s the common theme of the search that makes it so hard to create a division. In a sense, the search for purpose can be said as our purpose, but I don’t think I need to explain that the search for purpose is not actually a purpose. How could the search for something be the thing. It doesn’t make any sense, but still we search and still we feel occupied by this “purpose”. That is when the trouble begins; when we realize that our search is not fulfilling.

If I were to be fatalistic, I would say that there is no purpose to be found, but that’s not entirely true. It’s simply the manner of acquiring purpose that has caused such distress. Purpose is not to be found, but to be created. I’m no scholar of consciousness, but I do understand that I must indeed separate my consciousness from physical reality, in order to create something new. If all I ever do is use my consciousness as a tool to interact with my waking world, I will never be able to imagine anything that doesn’t already exist here.

If all we ever do is use our consciousness to reference a tree, it will forever remain a tree. There is no purpose in a tree, besides the trees own purpose. But I’m not in the business of creating oxygen and providing habitats for small animals. I want my own purpose. What we must do is use our consciousness to separate ourselves from the physical reality of the tree, in order to imagine what the tree might become. Perhaps, the tree will shake suddenly, the earth will fracture and cracked, wooden legs will burst forth from the explosion of soil and the tree will simply walk away. It’s an entertaining fantasy, but now we have a tree wandering as aimlessly as we do during these days without purpose.

What if I imagined the tree as a pile of wooden logs nested next to a home, ready to stoke the hearth and hearts of the occupants? It is winter, so it would seem a good idea to have firewood ready. This is a slight glimpse of the ever evasive concept of purpose. There is none to be given, but an infinite amount to be created. However, there is a fatal mistake to be made here; that would be assuming that one’s own purpose is now to cut down the tree, saw it into stumps, split them into logs, and stack them against the home. This is not your purpose, if you are the one to take on this task. This is the task.

The purpose would be warming the home so that the beauty of the human spirit may sit comfortably around a fire and commune with other souls seeking warmth. It’s dangerous to assume one is an automaton and that tasks are the same as purpose. We are humans, not machines. Our purpose is never so shallow and we will not find it floating among the falling leaves. Our purpose is communal and poetic; we are greater than the sum of our whole.

Elusive Illusion

We are all living in houses, built in rows and nestled around the hearth of human civilization. I think of those times, long ago. I imagine the fires burning late into the night, surrounded by farms and make-shift huts. It was the first attempt at forming a society, built around stockpiles of basic necessities like food, shelter and safety.

Now, we do not gather around fires or work on farms. There is no king surveying the land. We are all free to do as we choose, if one accepts the modern definition of freedom. There is opportunity and possibility, at least enough to make us feel content. Yet still, here we are, in houses built in rows. It is the cruel illusion that arrives with the neat package of Midwestern, suburban lifestyle. It gives one the sense of being part of a community, but I do not feel like I am part of a community.

I could live my entire life in one of these houses, crammed wall to wall with my favorite things and people, and never get to know anyone else living next door. I could never participate in the actual society in which I live, but if I pay my taxes and go to work, I am technically part of the group as a whole. This is the illusion: the thought that I am participating, but I am so clearly not. I am not an actual member of the society, I am simply a bi-product.

It is as if I am a single piston, in a single engine, set in a single car which is part of a collection at a car show. I am technically participating, but nothing more. I am not the car as a whole, just as I am not a man as a whole. I fulfill a single role and hope not to make any trouble, so as not to be discarded and replaced, or worse yet, to be “fixed” or “repaired”.

I served my country’s military for six years and returned to the peace and quiet of my home-town. I am comfortable here, so I stand on my porch, smoking a cigarette, and drinking my morning coffee. I wave to my neighbors as they set out to complete menial tasks or leisure. I have functioned well and, for the most part, have never needed the attention of any social mechanics, but I fear my functionality will not last long.

As I stand here on my porch, looking at the faces of the houses opposite mine, my eyes drift slowly to the roofs of the houses beyond. The hill slopes in a gentle manner and reveals them stacked in neat rows; they all have a road and a number assigned. I can feel the presence of the houses behind me, obscured from my vision by my own home, but not at all absent from my perception. I sense their presence and I begin to wonder, “Who are these people?”

I cannot help but feel as though I have been kidnapped late at night, stolen away from my family, and placed here. My memories have been taken from me. I am the orphaned amnesiac, functioning in a role I do not understand, for the express purpose of not being noticed. I have been stolen away from the nurturing fire of the human soul and placed into a neat cubicle, complete with central air, plumbing, and pharmaceuticals.