Why am I here?

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yes butA good question.

A person can spend incalculable hours marinating in it, searching for meaning, trying to divine an answer.

But as compelling as that question may be, it eventually becomes apparent that the better one is:

What now?

When I decided to stop asking myself the first question and focus on the second, my life began to transform.

After years spent trying to “figure it all out,” I came to the conclusion that this reality sucked and I didn’t want anything more to do with it. I wanted to be done.

So I retreated. Pulled myself inward and cut off all inputs. Virtually stopped interacting with the world. My universe became very, very small.

To all outward appearances, everything was fine. I looked normal, acted normal. But I was just going through the motions.

Life inside my mind was much more hospitable than what existed outside of it. Quite interesting, actually. I kept myself entertained by spending my days sitting at the kitchen table thinking, thinking about thinking, and then thinking about thinking about thinking.

Other than interacting with a small circle of friends and family, I stopped trying to make my presence known in the world.

I actually formed the thought that I would be satisfied with leaving no trace that I had ever existed. Although it was a lie, this comforted me.

But I felt paralysis and stagnation lurking around the edges and couldn’t bury the creeping feeling that I was missing something primary.

As the pressure of these unacknowledged whispers began to build, I found myself becoming desolate.

The space inside my head suddenly felt constrained, oppressive.

I got to the point where I felt I had explored the boundaries of my own existence so completely, there was no place left to go.

Yet I knew there was.

I needed to escape, but had no idea where to escape to.

My desolation turned to desperation. And then panic.

On one particularly difficult day in the Fall of 2013 as I sat staring at trees watching autumn leaves fall like confetti, trying to clear my head and beat back the emptiness, the thought came to me that I had been so obsessed with figuring out “what already is” that I had completely ceased to think about “what is possible.”

I suddenly remembered that I have eyes and ears and fingers for a reason:

I am here to DO something.

Obvious unto the point of absurdity, this fact hit me in such a staggering new way that it shattered the confines of the mental construct I had been inhabiting.

Of course I’d done many things, and been successful doing them. Yet it had never occurred to me that doing, creating, experiencing, expressing and expanding were the SOLE PURPOSE of my existence on this planet.

We come here equipped with a body and a brain built for sensory input, emotion and action. Taking full advantage of this through creating and connecting is how consciousness, awareness and understanding are expanded. Otherwise, we wouldn’t need to be here at all…we might as well just be minds floating in a black hole.

The ramifications were exhilarating.

And petrifying.

I had been living in my head for so long, I was terrified that I had lost my ability to create outside of it.

To not do something about it would be surrender.

So I took a leap. Forced myself to reach out and do something I never would have done. Which set me on a path that gave me the strength to do something I had always wanted to do, but had been too cowed by fear and self-loathing to try.

I started painting, and I kept on doing it.

And things began to change.

The process was slow, and fraught with self-criticism and doubt, painfully so at times. But I kept going.

Somehow, by creating something new, something for myself, something that wasn’t dependent on the approval and recognition of others, I began to create my own answers.

All of the questions I had been tying myself up in knots over started to untangle. And finally, some kind of cosmic critical mass was reached, and things began to explode.

I exited into my self.

Which brings me to back to the initial question:

Why am I here?

Asking yourself the really big questions is a very good thing, and self-reflection is necessary in order to make progress. But in my case, it became a substitute for living my life. And what’s the point of greater understanding if you don’t do anything with it?

Once I finally got past the metaphysical circle jerk this line of inquiry induced and started on a path of creating as opposed to just thinking about creating, many, many things became clear.

In the literal sense, I am here doing this blog because I found a way out of a reality that seemingly held nothing for me, and I feel a desire to share that.

For me, it was through painting; for you it might be something else. That’s for you to decide.

But I stand as proof that you can escape and live to tell about it. So I’m putting it out there, for whomever might need to see it.

Someone helped me in that way, and now it’s my turn.

2 Comments

  1. Brenda Litman
    May 15, 2015 at 3:47 am // Reply

    Very thoughtful, penetrating, and honest, Lisa. I love the conclusion!

  2. Great writing about a place I have been to, and came out of. We should talk.

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