It occurred to me last week during the many hours I was laying in bed due to vertigo, that one of the reasons I hate being sick is because I wasn’t being productive.
Why was being productive was so important to me?
Why did it take precedence over my mental and physical wellbeing?
My answer, after many hours of pondering: I was brought up in a patriarchal, capitalist society where I was taught to put men’s wants over my needs, to be a worker, and to obey the status quo without questions. 😲
It was troubling for me to realize but ultimately helpful. Currently, I want to work hard for my future. But first, I need to learn how to be a free thinker. So that I can work for a future that I defined, and not one that’s dictated by the “old boys’ club.”
There comes a time when we feel a desperate urge to live the life we want live and not the one we’re “supposed” to live. This usually happens during major life events like:
- Experiencing loss or trauma
- Working at a mentally or physically draining job
- Separating from a romantic or familial relationship
- Becoming a parent
- Adjusting to an empty nest
- Getting married
- Starting a new job
- Suffering from a chronic illness or injury
- Living through a pandemic
- Reaching a major age milestone
For myself, it was the passing of my father that fundamentally changed me. As my extremely insightful bereavement therapist, Athena, explained to me, “Losing a parent, whether you were close to your parent or not, is like experiencing an earthquake. You may not feel the aftershocks immediately. It may be weeks, months, and even years. But eventually, you’ll feel it.”
Bereavement during a pandemic is a novel experience. There is nowhere to go to forget the horror of watching someone you love dying hour by hour, no place to escape to block out the regrets that you could have done more, and no peace to be found when you realize that one day that’ll you’ll likely be dying in a similar fashion, slowly starving to death.
The silver lining is that because I had to face the loss head on with lots of guidance, help, and encouragement from Athena, is that I now have a deeper understanding of what living means to me. That for too long, I’ve lived life according to other people and society’s definition of what we are “supposed” to do. What Athena has helped me goes beyond bereavement therapy, she gave me the tools and the permission to start living life according to me.
The question then becomes what is my philosophy on life? What principles and values do I believe in? What’s my meaning and purpose? How do I focus in a world where I’m constantly being marketed to by various commercial and political factions?
I want to find my meaning and purpose in life along with a life philosophy that will be the core foundation on which I want to live my life by.
To start, I’ll be exploring Stoicism, Taoism, Zen Buddhism, and Epicureanism more deeply. Because they are more male-dominated and ancient works, I’ll also be reading books written by female authors and the modern search for meaning. I’m planning to read the works of Simone De Beauvoir, Brené Brown, Angela Y. Davis, and delving more deeply into Minimalism and Ikigai.
Dear readers, any suggestions on philosophies, books, or documentaries that changed the way you think and viewed the world? What’s your current philosophy on life?