Have you ever lost the will to live, or at least the will to continue living the way you were? If so, you’re not alone.
This is a common feeling in the world the way it is, where each person pursues his own aims on a more or less self-centered basis, often irrespective of the needs of his immediate community, let alone the needs of the whole. Living in this manner creates gaps in the fabric of humanity: wide, empty spaces between us that are difficult to navigate and painful to escape if you happen to fall into them. They are the “no man’s land” of the body of mankind, the so-called “valley of the shadow of death.”
This feeling can well up in times of both abundance and scarcity. It affects rich and poor, white, black, male and female, young and old, and everything in between. The feeling is often blamed on outer factors (e.g. family, partners, friends, society, prejudice, enemies, money, age, circumstances, etc.), but when you dig a little deeper you find that the cause of the feeling is a little closer to home. More often than not, losing the will to live comes from not living in a way that inner purpose aligns with outer meaning.
If you are not living on purpose you will eventually fall prey to the feeling that life or life as you’ve been living it, is pointless. Some people keep themselves busy—too busy—in an attempt to outrun this feeling, but as soon as points of rest, like a holiday come along, that eerie feeling starts peering around the corner and such people can’t sit still for long. Others numb or stimulate themselves with various substances (e.g. drugs, food, sex, adrenaline-inducing experiences) to keep this feeling at bay. The highs and lows distract them from the urgency of the will to meaning, which comes to focus in the present moment.
Deep down we know that the will to live and the will to meaning are closely connected, but we have gotten very good as a species at avoiding the existential questions: “Who am I, why I am here, and where am I going?” Prophets and philosophers occasionally come along to remind us of the centrality of these questions and of the fact that the only way to live a truly fulfilling life is to answer them, but by and large human beings have chosen the bumpy road that leads to perdition over the strait gait and narrow way that leads to everlasting life.
What is everlasting life, anyway? To begin with, life never dies. Forms animated by the spirit of life come and go, but life itself is, was, and always shall be eternal. The recognition of everlasting life, then, comes from living in a way where spirit and form are unified in purpose and direction. You can live at odds with yourself in this sense. You can act and think in a way that is inconsistent with the spirit of life—the very spirit of life within you!—and that disconnect lies at the root of all of your suffering, woes, and fears. But the whole point of living, as opposed to simply existing, is to let the inner reality of you find expression into your field of relationships and circumstances.
You might say, “Well, at this point I have nothing. No friends, no money, no home, no stuff. I have nothing, nada, nil!” But doesn’t the very fact that you can say anything mean that you have something? Even when you appear to have nothing in the outer sense, the spirit of life that you are has a form through which it can express, and that ain’t nothin’! In fact, some of the most remarkable turns of human events have come through such singularities, through individuals who in the outer sense had nothing, but who realized that their connection to the spirit within them was more powerful than anything else on earth.
My point to you today is that you needn’t despair. If it took desperation to get you to the point where you were finally willing to address this niggling little matter of the will to meaning, then so be it, but don’t linger there. You will feel that you do not have the outer strength to move on and you are correct. You do not. But you do have the inner strength of being that comes from an inexhaustible source literally at your fingertips, on the tip of your tongue, and within your beating heart.
You are not alone, my friend. I believe in you. I have hope for you, not because I like to whistle in the wind, but because I trust in the unique and powerful quality spirit that comes to focus in you. There is no better time to come out of the shadow and into the light than now.
You’ve got this.
Photo by Esayu Etsub on Unsplash