I came to the ocean

Fort Funston camps right below Ocean Beach at the end of the Great Highway and, geographically, at the bottom left corner of San Francisco. Lots of dogs and their owners congregate in these parts, but not many venture down the rocky, muddy slope, which takes one down to the shore. With the towering cliffs, shielding one from below, and the abandoned gratified, concrete structures from World War 2, the beach feels desolate. Therefore, I came here on Friday to get away from it all.

Packs of crows danced hundreds of feet above me and one hawk soared in the wind. The sun was dropping and in about thirty minutes it would disappear. Just like how’s there’s a constant cycle of ocean water flowing in and out, another day was flowing out for a new one to come in. With that, I drifted down the beach, with the water engulfing my feet and the clean, ocean air purging out my mind.

I fell into a pattern of taking life too serious, or rather, attempting to make my life more serious. This behavior that I clenched on to may be influenced from social-conditioning, but it rests more in the self-centered space of the inherent ego. I can trace back my rooted thoughts of finding purpose or passion to senior year of high school, when we needed to pin down our future academic endeavors in college. I recall scrolling through the long list of majors, and nothing struck me as my calling.

These thoughts would fade away, but always resurfaced now and again. Nevertheless, it wasn’t until these past six months that I actually had an extensive period to sit, contemplate, and analyze a future career or life of purpose. With my clinging to label myself as someone, I clenched life with both hands and hoped to strangled an answer out of it. Well, to my disappointment or rather, my ego’s, my search failed and was recently aborted.

At this point, I disregard the notion that everyone has an innate life purpose. In fact, I’ve dumped several of my past beliefs. I picked them up when I was in a fragile place, weak and down and dispirited. Nowadays I scan around the internet and notice that a lot people, who are hurting, hang onto spirituality or religion. These sources of truth attempt to provide facile answers and remedies to a complex, mysterious life. We all want the answers. We all want the truth. But I’ve discovered it’s better to relinquish these needs, and instead, embrace the mystery of life.

I mounted a long, windy staircase, which was engraved in the cliff, and peeked back at the Pacific Ocean. The ocean runs to the horizon, and, to my knowledge, there’s no more answers out there than here. With that, I came to the beach not to find anything, but rather, to discard what I’ve picked up.

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The Meaning

I pottered through the cramped library aisles, aimlessly scanning the titles of the non-fiction books. A world philosophy book, covering life outlooks over the centuries, snagged my attention, despite the black book’s unadorned appearance. I wandered over to a long wooden table, slumped in a chair, and flicked through the eras. I was in need of some insight.

In my final college semester of senior year, I became acquainted with eastern philosophy by enrolling in a class to fulfill my Chinese-major requirement. I had an affinity with Daoism, agreeing with the primary principles: The Dao and Wu-Wei. I skimmed through that section, refreshing myself once again on Laozi’s wisdom of being in harmony with life and nature as it unfolds. It still hits home.

Subsequently, I forwarded to a section detailing Jean-Paul Sartre’s and Friedrich Nietzsche’s views–existentialism. Although I rejected the philosophy in my post yesterday, two points did resonate with me. First: Nietzsche emphasized the celebration of the awakening or awareness of one’s existence. Though, this process may be overwhelming and daunting, it should ultimately be cheered. One is now conscious of the options available to himself and is no longer limited by the original illusional ideologies. Freedom is now available. Second: Nietzsche did not believe the purpose of life was to deliver meaning or essence to it, despite widespread misunderstanding; rather, he believed the purpose of life was to live with vitality. Do whatever you wish, chase after goals, become “someone,” but more importantly, live with zest.

And this–this point alone delivers me the solace I was reaching for. Yes, easier said than done, but it’s vital. Zest or vitality is not synonymous with happiness. Discard the notion that the point is just to be happy. Rather, live with curiosity, excitement, gusto, goddamn madness. That’s the point. That’s what evokes the feeling of being alive.  And that’s what I was attempting to stamp with my trembling finger yesterday.

Making meaning or living out life purpose is rooted in the ego, because the ego bases itself around self importance. Therefore, it’s reasonable to accomplish goals, surpass obstacles, and make a career, but these endeavors should not drown oneself. They can compliment one’s liveliness, of course, but regardless, whether it’s getting dressed or creating art, zest should be interlaced with it.  And that–that is simply what I wanted to share.

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Forget Meaning

The rain drops beat down on my grey umbrella. Porter and I balanced on the edge of a one-hundred-foot cliff, peering down at the crashing waves. Down below, the shore was vacant. A fog settled in around us, complimenting the already grey, dismal day. It wasn’t a beach day, nonetheless, we were there.

After about twenty minutes, we fled and took refuge under a cypress-tress fortress. Sparse raindrops slipped inside of our spacious dry camp. We hunkered down on a moist log, waiting for an opening. A black crow swooped in as well, ceaselessly chirping away about the foul weather. I glanced back at him and agreed; We were all in this together.

It’s been raining in San Francisco for the past few days. Glimpses of sunshine crack through sporadically, but all in all, the weather has been dreary. Coincidentally, my internal feelings mirror my outside surroundings. Apathy lingers, with the occasional glimmer of inspiration galvanizing myself for a short while. I rather be frustrated, but unfortunately, I lean towards indifference.

The crux of my indifference might rest in my unclear message. What am I trying to say? For instance, I’ve been hovering around a hour-and-a-half trying to compile words, hoping to spur out some meaning. I mean, everything needs some type of practical or even divine meaning, right? Like how my knapsack carries belongings or how the activist fights for a cause: both serve an existential purpose.

And this existential beast has been clawing at me. I’ve teetered through this existential crisis for months, grasping for any type of purpose. Because a man, especially with this evolved level of consciousness, needs to have some type of purpose, right? I scream, “I MUST BE USEFUL!” It appears that everyone on social media possesses some type of purpose now, whether it’s just them flaunting in front of a mirror, encouraging followers to workout because you should want a healthy figure as well. Or it’s the oversupply of self-help books scattered across the internet and book stores, guiding you on how to discover your purpose–most importantly, written by someone whose purpose is to help you locate your purpose.

My viewpoint might be labeled as cynical or disgruntled, but I’m discerning through the bullshit which another generation is being fed. It’s akin to the American Dream illusion that was portrayed in the 70’s and 80’s, except layered with a “positive vibes” undertone. All in all, they’re still trying to sell you meaning for your life. Our society is driven on productivity and efficiency: every action must have purpose.

It’s time to abandon this “provide meaning” mindset with the rest of the barrels of necessities imposed upon us. I’m not advocating a hedonistic lifestyle to run amok and go sought after new highs, but at the same time, go ahead. Moreover, this post doesn’t serve as a nihilistic public service announcement, proclaiming that nothing in life matters. Rather, what I am attempting to compose is that not everything in life needs to matter. Allow your weekdays to be chaotic, your breakfast items to be contrasting, and your written stories to serve no point. Go to the beach when it pours and buy that one meatball dish from your local Vietnamese restaurant. If you make it to the next day without hypothermia or food poisoning, that alone provides enough meaning to celebrate. Forget the lofty goals of purpose, you’re already doing it–you’re living another day.wordpress-1-23-17