“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be
compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson
While others throw posh dinner parties, profit from that all-inclusive despondency to discover somebody to drool over as midnight strikes, get wasted or begin counting down the last 60 seconds of the year with their eyes either glued to the television or the projector at the park or city clock, I like to let the feeling of thankfulness and an existence filled with all things that money can’t buy sink in. It happens every New Year’s Eve. Just during the beginning of December, an acquaintance was telling me how she had made a perfect plan to sneak out of the family gathering and spend the New Year’s Eve with friends, coupled with barbecues and games of beruit. I remember her saying that she knew it was trivial but that, it was all about having fun. Apparently, for the media and many young people, New Year’s Eve falls under the ‘major concern’ category of things people follow. But for some reason, that never appealed to me, because I always believed that one could have hundreds of friends and squads from all over the world, but what will stay consistent throughout their entire life is family and most importantly the evolution of our perceptions.
2016 was another year that witnessed back-to-back episodes of funerals, good news, distressing incidents and happiness altogether, but these experiences helped me navigate towards a deeper reasoning. Viktor Frankl, a Holocaust survivor whose concentration camp experiences shaped both his therapeutic approach and philosophical outlook, said that, “If there is meaning in life at all, then there must be meaning in suffering”. Frankl’s words, ‘meaning in suffering’ is linked to what he terms the ‘last inner freedom’ and that is the freedom to choose – to remain human or to become a brute. Suffering is an ‘ineradicable part of life’. We can tiptoe away from suffering all we want, but it has a way of finding us. And perhaps that is how we learn to understand the meaning of life. We are all here to live the human experience, and the way you deal with your experiences is the sum of how you continue to exist.
To live a life that has some kind of meaning is a conundrum that has challenged so many people throughout times and I too may not be able to simplify the mathematics of all this but I know some of the things that add meaning to life are making positive differences in someone’s life, knowing that you have loved ones around you no matter how many times you muddle things up, not living in the past anymore and staying true to yourself. And if you are short of any or all of these, I hope you learn to celebrate your battles and not let the fact that you lost them decide your future. I hope you lead your paths from within your soul and most of all, I hope you know that life is more than labels and likes and that, someone out there is slogging to live the kind of life that you have.
This year, much like the previous years, I will absorb myself in the moment amid the last 60 seconds of the year and will look back at those 366 days of my 2016. I’ll think of everything that I had, lost and learnt. I will take a look at every little detail and probably get teary, and think of how we’ve all changed in the previous year and ponder what one year from now will bring us. By the time when the clock ticks 12 and everybody shouts “Happy New Year”, I will be thankful that I end and start each year with individuals I’m sufficiently fortunate to call my family and circumstances that give me different perspectives. 2016 has taught me that those who aren’t the easiest to love are the ones who need it the most. I have also learnt that helping and doing good for others is an important element of any meaningful living and that, we must treasure and live well with people in our lives (regardless of the way they treat us) because they are never guaranteed to be there tomorrow.