Musings · November 28, 2007 8

indeed, why ask why?

“People say that we’re searching for the meaning of life.  I don’t think that’s it at all.  I think what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences in the purely physical plane will have resonances within our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.â€?  – Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth

Nike had a brilliant ad campaign to inspire people to action.  The commercials asked the question:  why ask why. Just do it.

Why do we search for meaning in our being here?  Why do we question what our lives are for?  Why can’t we be happy just to be?  The ancients tried to make sense of the world by finding out how things worked rationally.

So in the beginning man worshiped the sun and the moon and mother earth and all these things were gods to them.  They used the gods to explain why things happened the way they did.

And then something happened.

People decided to test the system.  What would happen if I didn’t sacrifice my goat to appease the thunder god?  When nothing happened man said ah.  So what makes thunder happen then?

We began our search for how our world really worked.

In the 17th century, the age of reason, we went in search how things worked using reason to understand how our world worked.  In the 18th century, the age of exploration, we went in search of where we were on the planet.  We went in search of the physical space in our geography.  In the 19th century, the industrial revolution, we went into what to do what with the knowledge we had gained and built big factories and machines to harness what we had learned.  The 20th century became the age of me.  People went in search of a better lifestyle through brokering information and gaining personal power through material wealth.  In the 21st century, we find ourselves searching for meaning again.  Why am I here?  There is sense of lack of spirituality.  The 21st century has become the age of self-help.

The search for meaning is gnawing at our minds.  It is the splinter in our mind’s eye that is sending us in search of the question.  It’s the question that drives us as Trinity reminded Neo.  A lot of the people I coach seem to be searching for something – something more out of life.  They look around at where they are now and in terms of material well being they have the things they need to survive and for the most part to live comfortably.

But being comfortable is no longer a comfort.  They want more.  They are tired of being comfortably numb.

In the Dharma Bums, Jack Kerouac describes a scene where all the middle-class people are sitting at home plugged into the same television shows, being pumped full of nothing, while characters like Jaffry prowl the wilderness, embracing life.

We don’t want to be comfortably numb anymore.  We want to live on purpose.  What is the point of life?  We marvel at what we have and what we have created yet we cannot understand why we are here.

A growing discontent is out there.  We have books springing up like the Celestine Prophecy that gnaw at the edges of the societal angst that consumes us.  It’s about a lack of spirituality – a lack of understanding of who we are, and why we are here.  We long to find our place and purpose in the universe.

Our comfort zones have become prisons that hold us in place and keep us from reaching our full potential.  I can image the faces pressed against the plastic bubble of our comfort zones as we look out beyond the edge and wonder what our my lives could be like on the other side of this wall?

Echoing Morpheus’ words, we are slave; guarded by walls that we cannot see, or touch, or taste – a prison for our minds


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