Going to try an experiment. Going to ask a series of three questions relating to living a meaningful life. Anyone can feel free to steal them and answer them on their own if they like. Just going to be brutally-honest and just put it all out there. Because hiding isn’t doing anything for anyone at this point.
First question: “What is meaningful to me?”
I’m not sure if I can answer this question fully. A lot of my behavior is still driven by a need to be validated by other people. A lot of people-pleasing, avoiding boat-rocking. Being silently angry and sullen while presenting a stoic outer appearance. What has made me happy lately? Solving problems, even if they’re small ones. Granted, I get worked-up about big problems and then get down on myself when I can’t figure out how to solve smaller problems. When I can teach someone something new or keep motivation high with them on a physical activity or a project, then I am happy and satisfied. I feel as though I often can’t do a lot of things because I don’t know enough, so I content myself with nudging a tiny piece of something along. I need to break that cycle, but I’m afraid of spending effort on things that might not pan-out or might actively blow-up in my face. So, I guess to put it in succinct terms: I haven’t figured this out yet. There’s a lot that I know makes me feel a little better about myself, but there isn’t anything that I’ve found thus far that I would literally stop being me if I wasn’t able to do it anymore.
Second question: “What constitutes a meaningful life?”
Another tough one. For me, it’s less applicable to social good or social justice, though for people that can derive meaning and merit from their actions in these efforts I’m happy for them. I suppose in my case it’s way more cerebral than physical, but the physical can be a gateway or path toward it. I’ve felt pretty fucking incredible getting to the top of some pretty interesting rope climbs, and I’ve found a kind of peace being out in nature. I suppose that’s what informs a lot of my life experience, seeing as how a large part of my life has been spent in some kind of anxiety, depression, or trauma. Finding those “moments of power”, of time-outside-of-time when life is larger than itself… that’s meaningful to me. When reality just seems to become stock-still and I can feel the edges of reality kind of curving inward on itself; those are the moments I live for. At the top of a long hike, a hard climb, a powerful move on a boulder problem, or even sitting with someone after pouring our hearts out on the floor for the other to see. These are the moments I keep my eyes peeled for.
Final question: “What would I be doing if money and education were no obstruction?”
Honestly? Climbing and coaching. I’d want to learn as much as possible about physical training, conditioning, nutrition, and injury management/rehabilitation as possible and help people to push just that little bit further. Just the tiniest iota beyond what they thought they were capable of. Seeing somebody literally glow because they achieved a new personal record or achieved a goal makes me happy.
A close second would be writing and photography. I’d like to be able to take pictures of places I find interesting, get their history, talk to the people who know, and be able to bring that back to the rest of the world. Because knowing more about the world around me is more important than ever.