Monday, February 06, 2006


The second key question of self-examination is this: what am I living for? Why am I doing what I am doing? What is the purpose of all this? This question is a world-crasher. If answered with an honest tongue, it exposes the thoughts and intents of the heart.

I suspect that many of my generation who live a hedonistic, self-destructive lifestyle have in fact asked this question of themselves. That may be a bit surprising, but I think there's a good chance that it's true. At a friend's funeral, after a late-night drinking binge, during a season of depression, this question visits. Those who must receive it answer it. Alone, in the restlessness of the night, the solitude of a long car trip, they encounter it, and search to find a response. The response comes. But here is the tragic reality: it is often quickly and tritely answered. "What am I living for? I'm living for myself. I think that I should be happy." This is a pretty typical bit of soul-searching, I think. The question comes quickly, and the answer comes quickly as well. Just like that, it's answered. An opportunity for discovery and true searching passes.

If one avoids this mistake, this question will not sit lightly on the conscience. Why am I doing what I am doing? Why am I destroying myself? It's important that we grasp the bitter kick of this query. It's articulating the reality that a person, a human being, is taking pains to ruin their life, all without reason. You see, the power of this question is this: there is no good answer to it. When you are living self-destructively, there is no truly satisfactory response. You are left with the unsettling truth that you, a person trained to care for yourself, are disdaining wisdom, common sense, advice, and moral absolutes. You are working hard at the terrible art of self-detonation. You are harming your body, jeopardizing your future, and ruining your present. Worse than this, you are doing so for no good reason. There is nothing gained by such action, no long-term benefit, no rational goal. There is only the moment, and the pleasure it promises. When it is gone, what is left? Certainly not an answer.


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