Finding Your Life's Purpose


I am halfway through Khaled Hosseini's A Thousand Splendid Suns, and let me tell you what, I love his writing, his way of pitching characters in a way that blurs the lines between fiction and non-fiction is undoubtedly admirable but, BUT, reading his book is no way easy for the heart. For every feel-good plot he writes, he seems to push in about a 1000 feel-bad, very, very-bad plots that you makes you want to think twice before reading any of his writing. For instance, he's describing this scene about how Laila's friend Giti, both characters in A Thousand Splendid Suns, dies. It's quite graphic:
One day that same month of June, Giti was walking home from school with two classmates. Only three blocks from Giti's house, a stray rocket struck the girls. Later that terrible day, Laila learned that Nila, Giti's mother, had run up and down the street where Giti was killed, collecting pieces of her daughter's flesh in an apron, screeching hysterically. Giti's decomposing right foot, still in it's nylon sock and purple sneaker, would be found on a rooftop two weeks later. 
I mean, he just writes these so nonchalantly, you would think if he is completely apathetic to reader's gruesome thought anxieties. 

There's one point in the book (spoilers ahead) where Tariq, Laila's childhood friend who she ends up having feelings for, says he's leaving Kabul and asks Laila to come along. Laila says no in most bollywood style and there's this scene where Tariq has to come to terms that Laila is going to stay behind. The way Hosseini describes the separation reminded me of a very similar situation I had to go through not too long ago, so I had enough. 

As Astha Tamang Maskey's newest single Ride says, in these situations, "you go for a ride." I don't own a car, heck, I don't even have a room of my own, so I went for a walk instead. 

A few blocks on, my thoughts still lingered back to the stupid book. Hosseini's hopeless portrayal of his characters that he envisages have all a common theme; the will to survive. Their life purpose, having gone through the best and worst, eventually culminates to surviving. That made me think about my own purpose. Rockets are not raining down anytime soon unless dear comrade neighbor decides to, so for the time being, surviving seems to be a given. What's the purpose of my life then?

It's a powerful question this one. A question that we have been solely asked a bazillion times and yet haven't quite come out with a respectable answer. Look back and remind yourself how many times you have been asked "What do you want to be?" when instead what people were actually asking was "What do you want to do with your life" which basically states that people want to know the purpose of your life. Purpose is this pure, ONE entity that defeats everything, that provides structure and substance to life, and provides direction. 

Direction. Think about all the physics you studied in grade 8. Scalars and Vectors remember? In simplistic terms, life without direction is a scalar quantity. Living off day to day, aimless, directionless. There is magnitude for life but nothing else.  

Life with a purpose, however, is a pure Vector. It's sexy. The sense that you know why you exist and what you must do. It's crystal clear and that compass will drive you through tasks that are deemed impossible. Crazy as this might sound, I think that's the only true way to lead life. 

Having a purpose.

Practical Guide to Thinking About Purpose and Creating Yours

The ONE thing breaks down our life into ONE thing.
It's simplistic yet very powerful way of thinking.
You might want to get this book and read it through.
1) List down all the people who have had the most influence on you and then write down the ONE thing they are doing

For instance,
Dr. Sanduk Ruit: Treating cataracts patients through his trademark low-cost treatment
Dad: Educating the next generation of Nepalese and teaching how students should learn
Mahabir Pun: Providing internet access to rural Nepal
Grandpa: sending all of his 8 kids to school

Extreme example: Downright crazy Elon Musk: Saving humanity by bringing the cost to access space down to fractions which could help colonize planets. 

The similarities are plain and simple; it's about what you can give to the world. The plain simple thought of accessing your skills and thinking about how it is useful for others. 

2) But first, thinking about what you can give to the world

Krinjal put the Nepali flag near space (not really) but you might to rethink his purpose
I like what he did in all honesty, but he has done since then is disappointing.
You can start out with style, but in the end, substance is what matters.
The prime thing you have to think is how your effort or giving can have a larger impact on people

Initially this what I thought my purpose was 1) Bring craft beer to Nepal after being qualified as a cicerone 2) Help build Nepal's first satellite

But here's the catch. On the outside, this purpose seems to be completely adorable. It's fine. It does propel me to learn more about my trade and bring in the craft that Nepal lacks. But it's all style no substance. Think about it, introducing craft beer would only benefit the handful of Nepalese who can afford it while rest of Nepal have no access to basic food. With the satellite, it's like how Krinjal did with Krinjal Space; all style, no substance. If you ask if it's really really necessary to have satellite, nope. Ok, Ok, let's just put it this way, it's debatable. It makes more sense to invest in basic infrastructure we don't already have. 

For instance, for me could be: Hands-on electronics kits. Kits to track elephants. kits to measure water quality. kits to build pocket sats. kits for science fairs, kits that teach basic electronics to everyone. The ripple effect of this one is quite massive if you think about long term.
That's it.

3) Now accessing your skills

An honest assessment of where you lie is absolutely necessary. Suppose I want to be able to build practical kits that are not just for science exhibitions but for real practical uses. For that I need to be sound on electronics hardware and software. I need to be able to understand mechatronics. Parallel-y I need to understand what grass root problems lie in the community that can be solved with smarter electronics. For that I need to have certain social and analytical skill.

So to summarize, it's something like this:
First think of the ONE thing (you can think big, as big as you want) that you might be able to offer with the basic skills you have, access how effective that purpose is for other people (you might want to rethink if it doesn't offer other people value), access how many people are going to be affected by your purpose THEN access your skills. Take classes, grab people and talk to accomplished personnel who share similar purpose. 

Implement. Improve, implement. improve, implement. Grow. 
Life's never boring again.

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