I have written below on my own philosophy of life, before diving into my personal mission. It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a long time. It helps me better visualise where I am at and I think it might help others better understand where I am coming from.
Above this, you see an emoji and photo of Mount Fuji. It’s not just an aesthetic choice, it means something to me. (Fun fact: I'm writing this while downing a bowl of tonkotsu ramen.)
In Japanese culture, Mount Fuji is a sacred symbol of beauty and transcendence. I chose it because I think beauty relates meaningfully to life. Beauty in its classical sense, its purest form. As a value. As an end, rather than a means toward an end. Living a perfect life is nigh-inconceivable, although we all aim towards it in some shape or form (and responsibly so). But beauty doesn’t demand perfection. There is nothing that is, which is perfectly beautiful nor beautifully perfect (in the sense that something can be perfect). There is however that which is imperfectly beautiful or beautifully imperfect. All beauty demands is honesty, appreciation, and proper treatment (or right conduct). I think that's what a good life looks like. Beautifully imperfect. Imperfect, but lived honestly, with appreciation, and given proper treatment or right conduct.
I also chose Mount Fuji because I think mountains relate meaningfully to human endeavour. In many ways, life is like a pilgrimage atop Mount Fuji. Except we all have our own peaks, and we never reach them. We perpetually climb, much like Sisyphus rolling a boulder up the hill for eternity. In spite of it, or perhaps even because of it, the journey of life is beautiful. While one has to inevitably suffer in aiming towards their peak of Mount Fuji, there is something transcendent and sacred in doing so. Mount Fuji wouldn't be the same if it were a mere walk in the park. I feel for those who suffer without being able to recognize the beauty in it. While we never reach our peaks of Mount Fuji, it does us good to have them to endeavour towards.
We don't have a finish line, but we all have markers — a certain point on the height of our mountains — where it would mean the difference between finishing the climb with serenity or wallowing in regret at having not tried hard enough. Such a marker is impossible to quantify, but this is my attempt to articulate the range where I've set my marker.
My mission is to cross the point where I've set my marker. Where I'm confident I would finish with a sense of success once I have crossed it. My mission is simple. And deliberately vague. It is this — I want to live a life worth writing a memoir on. Many people like to say things along the lines of “I want to make an impact”, but I feel like the word impact is so overused it's lost its meaning. I prefer to think of it another way. I want to do the kind of things, and be the kind of person worth commemorating. And I think that which is sufficiently in service of others, is a life worth commemorating. To me, a life serving none but the self is not a memoir worth writing. Not unless the intent is to write about a narcissist. I have also found a kind of measure for memoir-worthiness — a life worth writing about could be measured by the people who measure themselves up to it. I think people measure themselves up to lives that are rich in integrity, kindness, responsibility, passion, and creativity.
What is a memoir worth writing, but also what is a life worth reliving? What is a peak worth climbing again from the very bottom? What an intimate question to ask of anyone! For me, a life worth reliving is one that is rich in thought, love, and passion. A life rich in thought seeks truth. A life rich in love seeks commitment. A life rich in passion seeks excellence. The life worth writing about is a testament of a life worth reliving. And a life worth reliving to me is one devoted to truth, commitment, and excellence. Perhaps, everything else is just baggage along the climb — comfort or vanity.
What end do I struggle towards? An unattainable one: beauty, goodness and truth.
By what means? Agency-expansion: life is no less than what I make of it. And what I, we, can make of it is nigh-limitless.