Today I was talking with some friends. One of them brought up how Robin Williams committed suicide. How could a man on top of his craft, on top of the world, kill himself? This sparked a conversation on achievement. How do we stay motivated after we achieved the success we sought? We are impatient to reach our goals, but once we do, we miss the sense of progress and purpose we had when we were striving for it. This makes me suspicious of any philosophy of life or conception of identity that emphasizes possession, whether that be money, things, love, acceptance, accomplishments, prestige, or experiences.
According to existentialists, notably Sartre, we are what we do. Existence is action, and action is the fundamental activity of human existence. Our mass of accumulated experiences and memory does not define us. These are the deadened remnants of our past actions. As soon as we begin to identify with our past, we stagnate. Life force ceases to circulate within us. If we are not acting, we lose ourselves. It is the conundrum of human experience: life itself (action) destroys itself the instant it exists, instead becoming history. We must keep acting always. The way is the destination.
Since the way is the destination, the ends never justify the means. The means must embody the ends.
The question, Who am I? can only be answered by the person asking it. The right and responsibility for doing so is given to no one else. The answer is the choices made and the actions undertaken. It must be answered anew each day, and living the answer to this question must be the fundamental pursuit and activity of any person's day-to-day life. Each month, each day, each hour is an opportunity to renounce, reinvent, or recommit. The greater the action, the greater the man.
Dillon Dakota Carroll
...sees much and knows much