I sometimes find myself thinking about “What is the meaning of life?” to questioning myself “What is the meaning of being alive?”
Sometimes I ask, “What am I pursuing so hard about?” And sometimes I think, “What the hell am I doing?”
I was caught up in a question. The story in the question is imaginary, but it made me struggle a lot. The story says, there is a village called the Truth. All the folks in the village drink from the same well. One night, a witch added seven drops of magical water into the well, and since then, all the villagers start to confuse right and wrong, they cannot tell sweet and bitter, and they reverse the truth and the fake, except for a young villager, who has not drunk the water from the well, and is still holding on to the truth. After a while, all the folks in the village start to marginalize the young villager and say they’ve lost their mind. One day, the young villager is standing by the well and thinking, “what am I doing? What am I holding on to? Has everyone lost the truth, or have I lost my mind?”
And here is the question: if you were the young villager, would you drink that water?
I brought this discussion up to a lot of my friends, some of them said yes, because they thought if you think everyone has lost their mind, you might be the one who lost your mind. Some of them said it would be much easier. Drinking that water helps you to fit in and understand the “new world” better. Some also said, happiness is the most important thing in your life, if that makes you struggle, you deserve the choice to make you happy.
One friend told me that if I insist not to drink the water, that means you are not willing to fit in. This situation is imaginary, but it reflects a real-world philosophy: are you willing to come in right and seek to understand a very different world and its culture, even if the situation is to the opposite of your world view? Also, in the new world, everything is changing little by little every day. What the water in the story does is to change the world faster. How can you judge if the things in the new world is right or wrong? Drinking the water is the easiest way to help you adapt into this new world, so why not? If you insist not to take it, that means you are in your denial and you refuse to adapt.
When we say coming in right, seeking to understand, and adaptive leadership, we are trying to understand the community and the local life. However, adapting does not mean losing ourselves.
So, how can we tell when someone lost themselves? I think it is when they start to fake. When they say, the sky is green, when they say ignorance is knowledgeable, when they say war means peace, and they believe these lies. At this point, I would say they are losing themselves, because I know the RIGHT truth.
Human being is the sum of all the social relationship. The lies, the fakes, the arrogance, the wars, discriminations, and the inequity are all harmful for our social relationship. They may have become the truth that the “new world” believes, but that is not the right truth they should believe, because that is not a world, it’s called hell. At this point, I choose not to adapt, and I choose to hold on to the truth, even if everyone in the world thinks that I have lost my mind.
One book that I thought about when thinking about this question is 1984. When the whole world was losing the truth of humanity because when someone distort anything in the world, people would believe that. Winston Smith, the hero of the story, was holding onto the truth. He was so afraid of losing the truth that he risked his life to write everything down. People thought he lost his mind. They called him a freak. In real world, there are even articles saying Winston is not a hero, he is just a man of arrogance. This book used to be called The Last Man in Europe. I would like to be the last one, because when I lose the truth, I will lose myself. I will forget who I use to be, and it feels like dying because giving up the truth and forgetting who I am is like ending my life and come back to life, as a different person.
Forgetting myself is horrible. It terrifies me. In the Japanese movie Spirited Away, Haku, the white dragon could not remember who he was. He struggled his whole life living without his name. He lied to himself, he lost control, and he struggled. I cried at the end of the movie when he finally remembered his name and who he was, and yelled out, “I remember!” He found himself.
Why does a name mean so much to us? Because my name is a symbol, and what’s behind the symbol is so vital to us – that is who I am. Whenever I meet a challenge, I will question myself, “what is the meaning of life?” and “what is the meaning of being alive?”
I think life is a journey, where I can see a lot, make many choices, hold on to what I pursue, and get rid of what I hate, and in the end, I realize who I am. It is a really hard thing to realize who I am. There are so many things that can confuse me, there are hurdles and temptations that can blind me. So, whenever I am making a hard choice, I would think, how would I want to spend the last few minutes of my life when I am old. I wish that I can be proud of myself.
There are a few things that can make me proud of my life: love, success, friendship, and the realization of my dream. But sadly, being proud of these things needs some luck. I need some luck to meet the right person, to match a good career life, some fantastic and long-lasting friends, and to make your dreams come true. I do not believe much in luck, and there are a lot people do not have that kind of luck.
There is one more thing that can make me proud, which does not need any luck – be true to myself and insist who I really am.
I will be proud because after I am faced with great pressure and extreme temptations, after I am elbowed out by my own people, after I get beaten up and crying at night and doubt what I am doing, I am still who I truly am.
I will be proud of myself because insisting who I truly am in the right way makes me firmly believe who I am. Eventually, I can get what it is behind the symbol of my name, with my insistence and my reflection of humanity, and that is the right truth of MYSELF!
Stefan Moses is a transfer student from China and has been in the States for almost one year. He majors in Economics and Computer Science, and minors in Leadership. He works as an LSA in the LEAD-UP and a CA in Sanford Hall. He loves making connection and he enjoys his life-full of passions.