Jun 20, 2021

4 min read


The second most important task for cognitively sophisticated creatures, like humans, after the evolutionary mandates of survival and reproduction, is to construct a dynamic story that explains the organism’s inner experience and exterior environment. In the case of humans, most of these stories have to do with society, since we are such profoundly social animals. The stories have to define the identity of protagonist, make sense of the events that a person experiences, establish a relationship between a person and their surroundings, which will have to include their immediate physical surrounding and the history of the world as they know it, and perhaps functionally most notable, a personal purpose will be provided as a synthesis of their instinctual desires and their crafted narrative. A purpose, or many lesser purposes under a coherent theme, are the vital tools of obtaining a satisfactory experience of living in the modern world, when the urgency of the survival and reproduction are removed and our biology can no longer meaningfully guide our courses of behaviors. If for a moment we can relieve ourselves of these thick lenses we use to filter, organize and interpret the constant input of information, we shall see how relentlessly chaotic and confusing a place we managed to put ourselves in, through efforts spanning thousands of years. And this effect imposes most potently on those who opened their eyes to myriad corners of the world and all walks of men, that the more knowledge they try to incorporate into themselves, the harder it is to fit everything together meaningfully. The fact that our world is changing in an increasing speed doesn’t help either. More possibilities of experiences, belief systems further polarized, and inability of communication between peers — — higher risks of existential crisis, whose symptoms, many times map exactly onto the phenomenon we now have transformed into an ideologically void one: mental health.

But we are not born with a narrative. It is a strenuous process to weave together one, and too much originality often are perceived as insanity. Upon birth, the mind starts hungrily picks up cues and patterns of the meaning behind the apparent. Before the onset of formal education, which is recognized by most society as a necessary effort, partially to indoctrinate its future members to see the world in a similar and beneficial way, the children already eagerly speak of right and wrong, good and evil. They are keen to announce their dream, and to put out rules in their little play groups, for what is weird and what is normal. Ever since then, human are peculiar in the extent we are thirsty for cultures. The consumption of media in modern days, or the quintessential role of rituals and mythologies in the past, or our fascination with the theatrics, with day-to-day dramas… We truly long for meaning. It’s so powerfully attractive to us, when there be a demonstration of the act of making sense of all the scattered pieces of experiences that are relevant to us. Our societies hold these acts and their product with high regards, and we respect the inventors of patterns and prophesies. If you transform part of the human experience in a way that satisfy a perhaps innate psychological device of “making sense”, a rudimentary ability differing from “reason”, you have a story. You are the inventor of a cause-and-effect chain. You most likely harvested meaning as well. A person will particularly be attached to this story if this story helps explain their experience, consequently adding to their inner narrative. This effect will be felt as sometimes an enrichment of their life, because it provided with more sources of meaning. Meaning does not come out raw materials of life; it comes from artful extrapolation. They might even describe this story of “containing wisdom”, since wisdom entails practicality.

The story that has been instilled in me since young is one about diligence, perseverance and achievement. It’s about how one secures success through training, focus and sacrifice. Life is not about happiness, nor is it about love. The world is the behemoth where generations of people have suffered in darkness and ignorance, and it is my responsibility to be powerful enough to whip the world into the right direction. What vanity. Once there was indeed a time in my life, about fourteen, when I dreamed of a reclusive and retired life on my own, just me and my inexpensive hobbies. Later I somehow decided that it was not dignified enough I guess, but it was also before the first recognized success in my life that blew up my confidence. Didn’t I talk about the same type of married life in a cold, snowy city with different people? It was worth noting that it’s the first