I’d actually written this 2 weeks ago, typed in my phone late at night when it was hard to fall asleep. If I could recall clearly, I was feeling quite jaded with my life then (as usual). School has made a habit out of me. Every 3 months, I would push myself and work extremely hard for a few letters on my transcript. And by the end of it, I’d feel like a part of me is missing and I need to do a little soul searching in order to get myself back. Yesterday, I reread what I wrote 2 weeks ago, and I decided I should add onto that and post my additional thoughts on them:
7th May, 1.47pm
“In life, there are some moments that will hit you like a hard slap on the face. Then, this wave of sadness washes over you as you replay your life and realise that you’ve come so far, did so much and still, you find that there’s not really much that you have accomplished with your life.
Maybe the book is right. I’ve been reading a book titled ‘Perks of Being a Wallflower’, and in it, there was a part where someone tells Charlie, the main character in the story, that every girl is hoping for a man to give her a purpose in life.
When I read that, I felt peeved – not because that person in the story seemed sexist to have said something like that, but that to a certain extent, I don’t think he was that wrong to have said such a thing. And I resented that.
Purpose. What’s the purpose of my life, I asked myself then. I couldn’t find an answer. And it was in line with what I have been feeling lately. These days, I’ve been feeling lost. “Disillusioned” is a word I keep hearing from my friends whenever I talked to them about it.
“Everyone feels like that, it’s very natural,” my friend said, “but I think, had it not been for my faith, I would probably feel as disillusioned as you,” she said. If it were me in the past, who has grown so sick and tired of overzealous religious persons preaching that the slightest mention of religion would get me sick with contempt, I would have called her out for what she said – How dare she use her faith as an attempt to judge me and put herself on a higher moral ground!
I would probably think something like that. But instead, I sat there in silence for a moment. I think she might have thought she had offended me because she said something after to smooth things over. I didn’t hear what she said because I got caught in my own thoughts. But slowly, I nodded my head and agreed with her. “You’re lucky to have faith,” I admitted.
To be honest – and I’m saying that because I am almost never fully honest with myself – I envy people with faith, with their hopes and dreams still in tact and infallible, because they have their faith to pull them through.
I always wanted to have something like that. A conviction so strong that nothing can shake and sway me from where I stand rooted. I always wondered what that’d feel like, and what it takes to have something like that.”
Here is where I stopped in the memo, and this reminded me of an online chat I had about a week ago with an ex-colleague of mine online (I knew him from my one-month internship stint last December), who has a huge appetite for philosophy and theology.
Upon hearing that I was agnostic, his interest piqued and he called out for a discussion to better understand what my thoughts on religion are (and I suspect, he had hoped he could convince me to convert; Again, I think if it were me in the past, I would have violently object to such a discussion and steered clear away from him in the future. It astonishes me to see how far along I’ve grown over the years, and yet I am still so inadequate).
**Disclaimer: I understand the topic on religion is very sensitive, and I respect that everyone’s views and opinion on it may differ. I’m not seeking to offend anyone, or cause anyone to fight, or sway anyone into one religion or another. Neither am I asking for an answer, because I know there are just some things in life that will have no absolute answer and should always be left open so that one can grow and develop in their own way, and not make the mistake of looking at life with a tunnel vision. If you can accept that with an open mind and be able to resist that urge to air your thoughts out solely to persuade someone to agree with you, then you may read on. If not, then please understand why your comments will not show up in this post.
So, as the discussion wears on, I could tell that it frustrates him that I was unable to see that his religion is the one Truth, and it vexes him more than I to see that I was incapable of believing his words.
It wasn’t that I was denying God’s existence; Rather, I often contemplated the possibility that they may be of one entity, told differently or appearing differently in many forms. And that, perhaps believing in one religion over another may mean that I chose to believe in one version or image of God over another, and I wondered if subscribing to one religious affiliation over another is truly ‘believing’ or not. Also, assuming there is one true God amongst the many different religions that we have, I often wondered how do I go about accepting in my heart that the one affiliation I eventually subscribed to is the Truth and not that I was actually willingly letting myself believe in a beautiful lie? …But, is believing in a beautiful lie really a bad thing in the first place? And is there a Truth in the first place? … and then, as if to calm myself down from all these thoughts running through my mind, I think: What does it matter as long as it could allow people to arrive at peace in the end?
Urgh. My head is starting to ache.
Yes, I’ve been told a number of times that I tend to overthink things too much, though I’m not sure if that is necessarily a bad thing (I’m starting to think maybe it is). Questions begets more questions, and not until I fully search for explanation that I can accept in my heart will I resign to one affiliation, I told him. But as soon as I said that, I wondered if that meant that I was to resign to such a life as well – where I’ll only end up with more questions than I do answers, and thus would never be able to feel spiritual peace; not being content with my present inadequate and faithless self, and yet not quite content with simply resigning to just one form of Truth over another either. The only thing I can do is to accept this enigmatic and contradictory part of myself. There’s still a lot to learn, I guess.
“SIGHHHHHHHH…” was his reply. I resisted the urge to tell him that it’s how I feel with my life from time to time. Instead, I laughed. “I’m sorry,” I said, “I don’t really know how to explain it in the exact words that can describe my thoughts because they’re so jumbled up.”
“Well,” he said, “I think you have to find it yourself, Gina. Ultimately, I don’t think I, or anybody else, will be able to convince you if you don’t want to believe it yourself,” to which I agreed. I sighed, hoping that I didn’t offend him in any way in the discussion. “Still, I envy you,” I admitted, “I envy that you have faith to hold onto.” For a while, he said nothing. I guessed he didn’t know what to say.
Then, he started typing, “I’ll pray for you.”
And at that moment, I felt a certain sense of calm and relief. At the end of the discussion, he has come to accept that this is something I have to arrive to an answer on my own, and he hopes I would soon, whatever that answer may be.
“I know,” was all I could say, “and thank you.”
Maybe I’ll go through life never fully understanding what it is and why I’m put on this earth for. Maybe I’ll never be able to find a purpose (or maybe, like what was mentioned in the Perks of Being a Wallflower, I might really end up like a girl waiting for someone to give me a purpose). Maybe I’ll never know what it’s like to have faith, or feel strong conviction to anything like that. But I’m just thankful I have friends and family to pull me out of the quicksand every time I feel like I’m about to lose myself again.
At the end of the conversation, I couldn’t help but smile at the irony, being reminded of a phrase an acquaintance of mine used to describe me a few years ago, which I recalled after much introspection on my own: I have a strong conviction towards not having any conviction at all.
I wondered if that’s necessarily a bad thing.
After spending some time pondering over it, I couldn’t come up with an answer. But that’s okay. I’m sure somewhere down the road, the answer will be made more clear to me. So I left it aside for another day and went back to bed. I slept peacefully.