What Purpose?


You have already grasped that Sisyphus is the absurd hero. He is, as much through his passions as through his torture. His scorn of the gods, his hatred of death, and his passion for life won him that unspeakable penalty in which the whole being is exerted towards accomplishing nothing. This is the price that must be paid for the passions of this earth.

The Myth of Sisyphus, Albert Camus

Does your life have an inherent purpose? On posing this question I’ve received a range of responses. There are those that believe that yes, life has a purpose, and it’s their job to find it, or be guided to it. Others claim that life has only one imperative – a biological one – namely, the urge to survive and reproduce. There are those who have shrugged and asked “What does it matter?” (though that’s an answer in and of itself), and others, like me, who believe that life is inherently meaningless – that it’s incumbent on us to define what constitutes value and direction to an otherwise incoherent string of days.

I have thought a lot about this question. Not because I imagine stumbling on some undiscovered line of thought, but because the answer shapes our approach to existence, our approach to each-and-every minute. I imagine finding one’s purpose more inflexible than defining one’s purpose. The former supposes a single, shining path that’s tailored to you, and a life of dissatisfaction otherwise; the latter, more fluid – a product of experience, a deepening realization of one’s values, and a sense of the stupidity of it all.

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