Here's a guest blog post from someone I regularly communicate with via email. This recent message from the person resonated with me, because it echoes thoughts I frequently have about the absurdity of believing that life has a purpose imposed from outside of us.
Like, from a god. Enjoy...
Hey Brian, how are you and yours doing?
My family and I are doing well. Lots of folks around us have COVID, but so far, we’ve managed to avoid it.
I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s interesting what hangs around in my head from religion. One thing that rears its ugly head on a fairly regular basis is the idea of purpose. The idea that my life has some specific purpose and I need to figure it out. Wow. Just typing that out feels like 200 lbs has been added to my shoulders. That’s a fucking heavy thing to carry around!
Of course, life purpose implies someone or something that gives purpose. Most feel it is “god” that does this. Well, now that I’m an atheist, that’s a problem!
You’ve written about this and I’m sure I’ve emailed you regarding this topic before. But it still amazes, and frustrates me, that I still struggle with this.
It seems to me that the idea of some specific purpose in life in more of a western culture idea and only if you have more than a little to a lot of money. You don’t have to go to India or Africa to find starving children, there are plenty here in the US. What is their purpose in life? I can’t imagine that they think about it much. Their main purpose is to get food!
Did early humans worry about some kind of ultimate purpose for their lives? I doubt it. They were just like any other mammal on the planet. Eat, sleep, reproduce. That was likely their main “purpose.”
I know all this, but it’s still hard to shake the idea of some kind of purpose that was so strongly instilled (brain washed) into me. “God has a specific plan for your life! You have to find out what it is and do it!”
I heard that message in one form or another for probably 20 years. I asked god about it on a regular basis. I prayed and prayed and cried and pleaded. You know what he said? Nothing! Ugh! It was so frustrating. Just thinking about all that makes me tense and irritable.
I think it’s funny that the memories of hearing about divine purpose come back to me when my job gets difficult, or life is unpleasant for whatever reason, etc. But it’s not surprising that this happens. After all, religion as a whole is kind of an escape from reality. Or at least the attempt at escaping reality.
You wrote a post right at 3 years ago that I found called No need to have a "calling." Just live your life. I read it before sending this email, and I’ll probably read it again. It pulls me back into reality and helps me relax.
I think it’s interesting that at one point, I would have said that without god, life doesn’t make sense. Now, the way I see it, is that without any kind of god, life seems to make more sense. It just is what it is.
Oh, and your last several posts have been very insightful and helpful to me. All your posts are good, but these last 5 or 6 have been very timely. Thanks again for sharing your ideas, insights, and things that you have been reading.
Talk to you again soon.