Saturday, March 12, 2011

existentially alive: a little reflection of something he said

What he said made me fell out of my seat. Well, almost.

I was at the student counsellor retreat camp, and it was the lecture hour. Our counsellor was describing three forms of counselling when this particular one: ‘Existential Counselling’ caught my ear. The clients that would benefit from this form of counselling are usually the ones that are searching for the ‘deep meaning or purpose of life’.

Now that is one counselling session that I would love to participate in…as a client.

I am not one of those who climb and scour the highest Himalaya mountains to search for The Guru who would tell you The Meaning Of Life, but I would gladly climb Broga Hill if it would bring me an answer. I am not one of those who quit and sell everything and searches for enlightenment or peace in quiet and distant temples, but I do sit and meditate alone in my room in times when I feel overwhelmed.

With what you ask me? What can possibly a perfectly healthy, above average-class 20-year old in one of the most prestigious university in the country, surrounded by family and friends, all her needs provided easily whenever she wants could possibly want more? Does she want more money? She can easily get those from her parents or just work longer hours at the air-conditioned piano store. Does she crave fame? She does not want to be famous, but just to maintain a good rapport among those she knows. Is she wanting in love? She has her whole family, including countless extended family as well as a special someone who cares a lot.

What else can she, can I possibly want more in life?

The meaning of life, according to the counsellor, can be discovered by three things:

a) Accomplishments
b) Experiencing a value (beauty, love, nature etc)
and c) Suffering.

All this I felt I have been through; I enjoyed the good memories and hated the bad ones. Still why do I feel that something is missing?

The worst thing, I felt, was when my counsellor also said that the deepest fear of every man is death. It was a terrible realization that went through my own mind when I knew at that moment, that if I were to drop dead that moment of an innocent little heart attack or whatnot, I wouldn’t really mind.

In fact, I would be welcoming it with open arms.

No, I will never ever do a suicide. It is against religion and my personal belief, and nothing will ever push me to do a thing such as that. Thinking more about it, I feel that maybe not feeling scared or afraid of death might not be such a bad thing. After all, it would mean that I know where I am going in the afterlife, and be free of all Earthly worries and duties forever.

But I digress. Going back to the Existential Counselling theory, I want to tell you what made my ears prick up like a hunting dog when a leaf rustles and made my heart beat so fast when I heard that this particular Counselling skill is associated with the very question I’ve been asking myself for so long. This is not a question that has a definite answer to it. Ask people around you, and expect different answers to it. Ask them what do they think is the meaning of their life and some will jokingly tell you “Money”. Some might tell you rather seriously that it is to score straight A’s, and some like me that have took some time to really consider question…well we’re most likely keeping quiet.

What is life when you get straight A’s in every exam you had since you were 6? Or do you really think earning $10,000 a month brings you the ultimate happiness in life? Do you think that having everyone you love near you always is the best definition of life?

Growing up as a Christian that has spent a fair many Sundays in church, heard many pastors and guest speakers speak and attended a few church camps, I know that the spiritual closeness you have with God trumps everything you have in life. I will not lie but admit that it has been awhile since I actually went to church or even touched the Bible. It is a disgusting yet common excuse that I will use: I’ve been just ‘too busy’. One skipped Sunday service led to another and another, and another. In a blink of an eye I’ve not been attending Sunday service for a year plus.

I’ve been telling everyone who bothered to ask that I’m going back to church IF it does not clash with my piano classes or what other ‘important’ weekend events. So far my empty and half-hearted search has led me nowhere but to feelings of depression and lost. I feel that I have changed so much, right from the way I look, the way I think, speak, react, act, love, hate.

I am almost afraid to know which are changes from adolescence to adulthood and which are actually from lack of spiritual experience and knowledge.

This has turned from a monologue of looking for the meaning of life into a realization that deep down I know I had actually known what the answer would be. I believe that with deeper understanding of the Bible and Christian living, I would find God’s reason for putting us here on this planet with all its earthly influences and possessions.

Then maybe I would find a little real happiness in life.

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