2012…. Don’t be afraid to ask WHY!
From the black Eames chair that I have sat in as a therapist for well over 10,000 hours, 2012 parades forth as the catalyst humans need to jar them from their slumber. Blessings to the Mayans for their implantation of an alarm bell into the future collective consciousness of humanity.
Whether they have predicted the end of times, the beginning of a new spiritual era or nothing at all, we should not delay the existential question most everyone avoids in order to focus on thoughts that keep their self-concept and lives in tact. Now, let’s ask:
Why do you exist?
Unfortunately for my hapless parents and tolerant friends, I have asked myself this question dozens of times a day from far (far) too young an age. I ask this question of others for a living and when bored at social gatherings to receive countless blank stares accompanied by the white noise emitted from their overloaded machinery.
The majority’s momentum requires you not ask this basic question. Life, like molasses, tastes dense and yummy, sucks you in and dumps you into a sugar coma. Satiated with daily routine and dramatic life turns that we blame on others, life drips by drop by drop.
Why do you exist?
It’s not a scary question, yet 99.9% of humanity waits until they’re ill, on their deathbed or not even then to wonder what we’re doing here. Ask when you’re young, lucid, in good health, still have choices, before you procreate, marry and divorce.
This year, the Mayans dare us to consider the purpose of our existence before it’s too late. We may never know whether their assertion/prediction/invitation is real or not. Yet, we can use it as a tool to recover the inquiry that remains buried under the debris of our lives, beating a rhythm deep in our hearts. Even as we run from errand to errand, job to home, job at home, laundry, market, dishes, Monday to Friday and Sunday night, again too soon, it’s within us awaiting our attention.
No one wants us to ask. The world is against it, because the “Why?” contradicts society’s celebrated accomplishments and journeys. Measure, know and scour the material and anti-material energy that comprises everything outside of you to define you, others and your life’s value.
Revered as one of the greatest minds of our time, Steven Hawking’s work wholly concerns itself with the measurement and definition of the endless, unknowable outermost-reaches of the external world. No human will ever be able to confirm his life’s work.
NASA and its Kepler telescope seek to locate habitable, Earth-like planets. They’ve discovered numerous, though none of us will ever visit any of them. Millions of dollars and endless Earth resources spent searching for nothing knowable and incomprehensible to most. Despite my best efforts, I cannot fathom its relevance to any moment of my life.
Our only certainty lives alone, enclosed within our minds, through our perceptions, memories, hopes and moments. Yet we hold our certain truth against the structure and rules that we instructed are real, what society exalts, what we can define and measure.
We stay imprisoned for fear of ridicule and the potential destruction of our relationships and the lives we know. We live as if a single phone call or a moment in time will not provide the definitive push needed to consider the reason for our existence.
As I write this, my beloved friend approaches death in hospice annoyed that her friends and family are making her transition about themselves. Goodbyes said last week, her room filled with ipads and twitter tweets. She says nothing because she still doesn’t want to upset anyone. Who cares? They are upset and will be upset any way.
It doesn’t have to be that dramatic if you start today. Telling yourself that what you do, who you marry, what others think of you defines you or your existence creates a life filled with anxiety, fear and a primal terror.
Countless times I asked friends and clients to strip down what they fear most and have heard:
“People finding out.”
“Finding out what?”
“That I’m not who they think I am.”
Why are we taught to care what others think of us? The prison of societal expectation, real or fabricated, becomes a dangerous shelter in our life, on our way to death.
Solar flares illuminate the atmosphere and reveal the Northern Lights. Under their brightness, take a moment and allow yourself to wonder why you exist in this form, your specific body, with your talents, at this time, where you live. Why?
Dump the Western Psychotherapeutic inquiry of “Who are you?” for “Why are you here, as you, right now?” The latter inquiry subsumes the former and gives it intention and purpose.
Why we exist includes an other, whether a person, a cause, a purpose that pushes us forward in our development. It doesn’t need to earn you an Oscar, a spot in the NBA or a billion dollars. If you feel compelled to love the 100 year-old oak tree outside your house, then exist for that tree.
There is no wrong answer.
No one needs to know. It can be your secret inquiry. Too much of mass culture has mocked the question and killed it before its birth. Humans evolved to need another’s enthusiastic waves of proverbial pompons to ratify action or thought. We don’t need it. Ask what brings you your specific joy and, in time, acting upon it will provide comfort and celebration.
My inquiry led me to what lies in the depth, if not the breadth, of this life. For me, the action which resulted is to give good love. A consistent, open, humorous and real support that allows others to flourish and live more out loud and less alone in this ever-expanding universe than without my presence. I exist to love and believe all of us do.
Love that tree, your neighbor, your garden, lost cats, singing, your children, the Dali Lama, baking, Jesus Christ, travel, Bill Maher, little league baseball, cashmere sweaters or medical research. It doesn’t matter, if you grow from it.
Last Sunday, seven hours of playoff football on television was the best way I knew how to love myself, which allowed me to love others the next day.
Stay focused on the question.
After you ask and ask, time no longer speeds passed you. Monday feels like a week, filled with ebbs, flows, joy, stillness, stress, anger and nothing. All in one day. No one wants to live a life they don’t remember living.
Dare yourself to ask the question often. Don’t require action. Your inquiry will lead you step by step.
Somehow the action or the “do” finds you if you stick to the question, give yourself time to answer and accept the answer. The action doesn’t have to be vast, glamorous or even profitable. I doubt we get points over there for any of that. We’re created in these individual bodies to discover what lies within, not outside of it.
Mala Mukherji – About the Author:
Bio of Mala Mukherji
Born in Los Angeles, California to parents, who immigrated from Calcutta, India, Mala Mukherji began studying the differences between Indian and American cultures from an early age. Frequent and early trips to India and being raised in Covina, a homogeneous suburb of Los Angeles created the perfect climate for Mala’s future pursuits.
While attending the University of California at Los Angeles, she studied the psychological and sociological impacts of the politics and histories of numerous cultures. After receiving her degree from U.C.L.A., she attended Pepperdine University School of Law, where she concentrated on issues relating to individual rights. After passing the California State Bar Examination, Mala practiced law in the Los Angeles area for over eight years.
Throughout her law career, Mala studied and explored Western psychological theory and Eastern philosophy and their practical application to the individual’s experiences. As a result of those studies, Mala left law practice and created a modality of spiritual psychological therapy, which combines Eastern and Western theory. She has maintained a thriving therapeutic practice for the past eleven years. Her clients include numerous leaders in the areas of sports, business and entertainment.
Having worked as a therapist for eleven years and over 10,000 thousand hours, Mala researched and discovered what allows and motivates individuals to grow. Because not everyone has the resources to partake in therapy, she wrote ASHES, which provides women and men a vehicle by which they may consider the events of their life and how those events effect them in present day.