A reaffirmation of purpose: to seek and to share ideas, tools and experiences that will help me and hopefully others live a meaningful life.
When I was about 20 and writing about my early explorations of the world and my ideas about life – earnest, ill informed, occasionally interesting but protected from any serious scrutiny by the cloak of mostly poor attempts at humour – Soulchaser was, on the surface at least, a travel blog.
Back then I was trying to figure things out.
The road seemed the place to do it, and the pen and keyboard the method. Not much has changed in that respect. My questions were existential and practical. Who am I and what should I be doing with my life? Have you ever wondered these things? Surely you have, however fleetingly.
Today my questions are mostly the same, but the intervening decade has given me time to read, travel, experiment and think. I’m able to ask those same questions with a little more maturity, a little less naivety. I also know of a few more places to look for answers, and have an idea of which ones might yield the most promising results.
My fumbling explorations of the pitch black cave we all find ourselves in, both accidental and deliberate, have revealed many dead ends along with a few promising routes to the illuminated world outside. More importantly, I’m now convinced of at least the possibility of that outside world, and I intend to spend my life looking for it. This is somewhat close to the path of the bodhisattva, but I’m not sure that term suits me just yet. I’m more of a novice spiritual spelunker, using hand-me-down gear and following the infinite lines laid down by millennia of inner explorers.
“I’m more of a novice spiritual spelunker, using hand-me-down gear and following the infinite lines laid down by millennia of inner explorers.”
Is it unusual to be asking these sorts of questions in my thirties?
It seems as though serious contemplation of these ideas puts me in the minority of the population. But surely it’s unusual not to be seeking answers unless you’ve already arrived at some kind of satisfactory conclusion. Is it all that obvious to everyone else? Or are the questions simply written off as intractable, unanswerable, or irrelevant?
I think it seemed obvious to me for a while. I could romanticise a period in my early twenties where in innocence I was somehow instinctively, naturally connected to the answers, to some kind of truth, however inexpressible. Sometimes it still seems simple, and the answers obvious. But then, how to live by those answers becomes the question, and that is far from simple in today’s world. Perhaps it was never simple but it seems to me that through technology, consumerism and careerism we’re more distracted and disconnected from reality than we could ever have been in the past.
“Is it all that obvious to everyone else? Or are the questions simply written off as intractable, unanswerable, or irrelevant?”
Whether this period of natural connection was real or imagined, I can definitely point to a later period of false confidence in my understanding of things driven by the ignorance and arrogance of youth, fuelled in part by material success. That self-assuredness started to fade a while ago, perhaps as a result of the fading powers of that youth and the true realisation of my own mortality. I think this is the real reason I started Soulchaser again. I’m really trying to figure this stuff out again.
Who am I and how should I live?
For better or for worse it helps me to do this through writing and a public platform helps motivate me to do it honestly and to do it well. But all this soul searching, soul chasing, is hard work. It can knock you off balance. It causes you to question everything you think you are, everything you think you want to be, everything you’ve spent your life working on and building.
“all this soul searching, soul chasing, is hard work. It can knock you off balance.”
Maybe that’s why so few pursue it. For a confused soul such as mine it requires an unsettling degree of compartmentalisation to slowly and carefully explore these murky depths while simultaneously and almost blindly powering forward to meet the ultimately self imposed demands of being a friend, a partner, a citizen, or a pseudo entrepreneur in the modern world. I started the year off balance, so it’s been a less than graceful high wire act since then. I’m prone to simply closing my eyes and holding on, unable to move like a child stuck up a tree refusing to accept the predicament of his own creation.
This dichotomy is difficult. Project confidence externally because to do otherwise can seem fatal, especially in business. To achieve this from a place of intense personal introspection is essentially to erect a façade, and maintaining such a façade requires, in my case at least, copious amounts of energy. I consider authenticity one of my personal watch words so this does not come easily or naturally to me. This blog suffers as a result. As does the soul searching which is the ultimate cause of the need for the façade.
This paradox is not unique to me. Better to do as others do and become a monk or a hermit or a reclusive for a while until a more solid foundation has been built.
Better, but not always practical.
All of which is to say that this blog is in parts notebook, memoir, and manual. It’s a small and hopefully interesting window into my inner life and a reflection of the ideas and experiences that happen there, and how they manifest themselves throughout the various areas of my life.
One of my many bad habits is to pursue and present perfection. Regardless of the reality – or otherwise – of any kind of perfection, the reality of the pursuit is messy, confused, full of false starts, dead ends and false summits. The search for truth or meaning is surely the same. But it’s that pursuit, the search, that I came I hear to write about.
If I can hold that thought then I should maintain the confidence to be vulnerable, and if I can be vulnerable I can write with a bit less bravado and a bit more honesty. This isn’t a commercial venture. I’m not trying to build a brand that I can exploit for profit, to use the pretty horrific jargon of business. I’m not trying to build my own profile (on here at least), and I have no motive apart from those I’ve stated here already: to seek and to share ideas, tools and experiences that will help me and hopefully others live a meaningful life.
Is there any more fascinating or important path in life than that?
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