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Before I give you the juice, there's a story I must tell. A story which leads up to the moment I discovered the meaning of life. Try not to skip to the end.
Mark Twain said this, "The two most important days in your life, are the day you are born and the day you find out why." A mysterious and profound sort of statement, right? A few weeks ago, when I first read this quote, it stopped me in my tracks, and for a while, I was scratching my chin, looking into the sky and thinking all philosophically and such.
I thought to myself: Is he talking about the meaning of life? Or is he talking about the circumstances of his conception? He's just talking about sex, right? And then it hit me.
He's talking about your vocation in life, of course! Your destiny, the one thing that you were born to do—like be one of the greatest writers of all time for example. I was excited at this realisation at first, but then it got me worrying. What if the meaning of life, and the reason we are all individually put here on Earth, is simply to discover our own vocation—whether it be writing stories, fixing leaky pipes, or fighting crime. And what if I never find mine?
I'm 25, and I have no idea what the hell I'm doing or what the hell I want to be doing. I don't even know what I want for lunch, let alone what I want to dedicate my whole existence to. What if it never hits me, what if I never see that day, the day when I realise what I was put here for, what I was put here to do. What if I never write a Huckleberry Fin, Or a Tom Sawyer! Or what if I get it wrong? What if I decide my vocation is to sell insurance, and so I dedicate the rest of my life to selling insurance, and then, I sell all the insurance until there's none left, so I retire... and then when I die, what if I get to heaven, and God says:
God: "So, what have you done with your Life?"
Me: "I sold all the insurance your majesty... sir... err... Mr. God..."
God: "You sold all the insurance?"
Me: "Yes sir all of it!"
God: "Why on earth would you do that?"
Me: "Because it was my vocation... it was the one thing you put me on earth to do! Right?"
God: "O, dear me, no! Why would you think that!"
Me: "I... I... uh... just... thought... I was good at it... so..."
God: "Oh dear, that's a pity, I will have to send you back I'm afraid."
Me: "What no! Why?"
God: "Well for one thing, if all the insurance is gone, then someone will have to sort that out won't they... did you have anything to do with the most recent election by any chance?"
I was in a real pickle for some time. All because of one silly little quote, written by one of my heroes. How could one sentence have such an impact on me and make me question the purpose of my own existence. How have I come to this? How can I be 25 years old and still not know what I'm supposed to do with my life. How?
It was probably a few weeks later when it happened. I had my day, the second most important day of my life: It was a Saturday, and for some reason I decided to get up early and take my dog Milo for a walk across the fields—which is very out of character for me, as I like to sleep in. It was on this walk that I had my eureka moment. It was a breathtakingly beautiful morning, the sun was just coming up and the sky was red and orange. Milo was running around sniffing, peeing, chasing birds and rabbits, generally having the time of his life like he always does. I was watching him with a massive smile on my face, as it always makes me happy to see him run. Then, for some reason, I started to think about what it must be like to be a dog. Dogs don't have existential crises. Dogs aren't as smart as us, or supposedly, as well evolved. They can't stand up. They can't write. They can't count. They can't hold a grudge. They can't open a beer bottle. They can't take out a loan. They can't put on a tie and go to work. Yet, all dogs know exactly what their vocation in life is. Without exception. In fact, any dog that's ever existed could be made content with just a few simple things. Take Milo, for example. As long as he gets two walks a day, two meals, a nice belly rub, and a warm bed, he's happy. In fact, he's the happiest little dog in the world.
Thinking about this made me feel very emotional, so much so that I had to stop for a moment to compose myself. Milo continued walking without me. I was completely alone. All I could hear was birds. All I could see was barley fields and sky. I looked out across the scene and started to cry, and for the first time, I realised how stupid I'd been. It's obvious. A moment like this, that's what I'm here for. A moment that appears out of nowhere and can't be explained, only experienced and never forgotten. Just the moment and nothing else. That's enough. A moment like this can make you realise you've been walking around with your eyes closed for weeks, months years even. It can make you fall in love. It can make you change your mind. It can give you hope. I don't need a vocation when I can have moments like this. This is my vocation: a moment of awe, inspired by the pure untameable beauty of life. As long as moments like this pop up in my life from time to time, I'll be OK. In fact, I'll be more than OK. I'll be happy.