I was recently hosting an event at the college where work. It was a lecture for senior students, the theme of which was “A Meaningful Life”. Though not out of place at a liberal arts school, I work at a STEM school, and we’re often luck to get these future engineers to attend anything quite so existential.
But our attendance was decent, and I was excited myself to hear the speaker. Though small, our school does host a Humanities and Social Sciences department among the numerous engineering degree tracks. I asked one of the professors to present on the topic, giving him no more details than the title and encouraging him to make what he wanted out of it. He did not disappoint.
The synopsis of his lecture was that there are 5 things to know and understand in order to give meaning to our lives. I was in and out of the room during some of his presentation, but one thing that he said made me stop and take note of it so I wouldn’t forget.
Whether we are a circuit of biochemicals, or fearfully and wonderfully made, we are all actions of dust.
It’s such a beautiful thought to me – and a true statement. No matter our beliefs, our creeds, our faith, or our understanding of the world – we begin and end in relatively the same way. Our circumstance and situations – whether divine intervention or random assignment – dictate reactions from us. Our actions then define us, and continue doing so until we ultimately reach our inevitable end. And from death, life continues.
A thought kept occurring to me on my morning commute, as I went over and over the changes I’ve been through in the past year. To think back to January of 2017 is to imagine a completely different life than what I have now.
The thought that kept coming up this morning was related to escapism, and how I used to use it as a crutch. All my life, since childhood, I’ve used books and stories as a way to escape reality. Fiction was always more comforting, more exciting, and easier to digest than truth.
As I started reaching the apex of my emotional transition, my reality became so overwhelming that I started writing fiction into my real life. I was no longer escaping into books, but I was escaping into an imagined version of myself. While I think it is incredibly important to try on different versions of yourself, the truth is that I wasn’t even playing the role of myself – I was trying to be someone else entirely.
The problem with creating a fiction of yourself is that you start to lose the truth. Looking back, I can see the slow process of me chipping away at the things which are important to me. It’s not until I finally dropped the facade, put down the book, and looked around that I realized what I had done, and what I had lost. Rebuilding the destruction of yourself can be a slow processes, but it’s worth ever inch of ground covered.
Is true what they say, that often truth is stranger than fiction. Whatever role I was trying to play is small potatoes compared to the person I am now. And I wouldn’t trade the person I am now for anything.