Many people regard life as something like taxes - we have to put up with them and submit our return. So, too, are we compelled to go through life, one way or the other.
Life is “just there” for everyone. None of us expended any energy or made a conscious effort to acquire life. Our parents brought us into being, and here we are. No voice came down from Heaven, or anywhere else, to inquire as to our opinion in the matter. If we find our existence boring or monotonous at times, we can devise ways to liven things up. The world has countless suggestions for breaking the gray monotony of our everyday lives, whether through games, entertainment, or travel. We play games, take risks, and engage in sports in an effort to add a little color to the pallor of day-to-day living. Some are reckless with their very lives as they search for adventure and excitement. Likely they would never risk their expensive cars if the chances were one in a thousand that they would be stolen, but they have no hesitations about risking their very lives when the odds are the same.
Others assume that only that which the senses perceive exists. “Eat and drink,” they say, “for tomorrow, we shall die.” They sense that life is a one-time affair, and declare: “You live only once”. This motto leads them to conclude that the purpose of their existence is to enjoy this world, its scenes, sights, and sensations, to the maximum. For them, a person is a purely physical entity.
In contrast, some react to the thought of leaving this world with dread. They fear the unknown, and picture themselves suffering interminable pain when their soul is separated from their physical being. This prolonged apprehension of death leads to depression. The person no longer cares what happens. He fails to perceive the exceptional opportunities that life offers, and often puts himself at risk since it makes little difference whether he lives or dies. Life has no meaning, and therefore, no value to such individuals.
Another symptom of the lack of purpose in life is the widespread use of drugs. Addiction, whether to harmful substances or to alcohol, bespeaks a vacuum in which survival is no longer the highest priority. People wander aimlessly through life, feeling detached from everything, and suffering as a result. For such people, life seems like a dead-end street. Short of suicide, there is no way out.
Fortunately, man has an inborn instinct to fight for survival. Most people are willing to give up their money, their status, even their self-respect, if only they are given a chance to survive as a result. Ask any soldier in combat, and he will explain to you about man's powerful instinct to fight to the last ounce of his strength in order to stay alive.
This instinct can be found not only in man, but throughout the animal kingdom. It is not the will to live that sets mankind apart from beast. Rather it is the human mind with its power of reason which distinguishes man from beast. Unlike the elephant, the leopard, the sheep and the horse, man not only battles to stay alive, but also asks himself: “Why live? What is the purpose of my existence? To what end was it worth fighting to stay alive?”
Those who sincerely seek a purpose of life are the first to find it. Their discovery infuses them with the contentment which comes from a sense of purpose. Those who feel that their lives have taken on significance are at peace with themselves and their surroundings. They experience the relief and rejoicing of a long-lost son who has finally found the way back home.