What is existence? How do we construct its purpose? When we do manage to wrestle some menial sense of direction, how do we know it’s not something contrived, something shoehorned in in the last moment? These are questions I have been wrestling with, and they’ve only become more prevalent and urgent in the past couple of weeks.
When I was younger, I had many ideas about what I wanted to be when I grew up. A marine biologist discovering the secrets of the Marianas Trench. A paleontologist filling in holes in the historical timeline. A secret agent protecting the world from untold doom. An astronaut and first woman to have her baby on the moon. What grand dreams!
I also wanted to be a teacher. I wanted to be one since I was in kindergarten. It was the safe dream, but it was my dream nonetheless. I made it happen and loved every minute of it. Until, I didn’t anymore. Don’t get me wrong. There are still days when I believe that I’ll only be alive if I work with young minds. Then there are the days, even after eight years, where I sit in my car during lunch and cry. It used to be these days were few and far between. Now, the marks on the calendar tell me this is more than just a passing phase. This is where I am, that bittersweet moment where you know the dream is ending.
So, I ask again what is existence? How do we construct its purpose? Do we define it by what we do? Do we define it by who we become? Do we define it by those we keep in our life? Do we define it by family? Do we define it by those things we have left undone but intended to do all along? Really, I think all of these just ring hollow through the years. Really, I think the answer is there is no answer.
Perhaps, it’s because the summer of my life is tending towards fall, and I have no real harvest to speak of to bring in that I am asking all these questions. Perhaps it’s the impending winter days which seem much shorter and the nights much colder that I am seeking to rekindle some truth to keep me warm. Perhaps, I should take the wisdom of a student who passionately interrupted our discussion on the fallibility of mankind in “By the Waters of Babylon” earlier in the week with “Miss, it’s too early for an existential crisis!”