There are many things we will never know.
“The universe that we know, that we can observe, must have all been in one place at one moment. And now it’s spreading out all over the place,” says Bill Nye the Science Guy about life’s origins.
But nobody knows why the universe is expanding.
Nobody knows why the universe is here to begin with.
So let me just put this out there, because I know you’re thinking it, too.
Why am I here?
- You’re here to love.
- You’re here because you have a purpose.
- You’re here because others want you to be here.
I’ve never felt satisfied with any of these. Yes, love—but what then? Yes, purpose—but what exactly? Yes, because of others—but why are they here, too?
Just like the unknowable time when the universe became the universe, this is the unknowable time of your soul.
To be alive
I like to identify the threads between things and knot them together until they form sense about this life and the business of living it. There are so many articles that talk about the “top 30 things you need to do before you die,” but fewer that talk about the intimate details of what it means to be alive.
I am not interested in the not being alive. I am interested in what we may never know about why we’re alive.
An article I read about drowning got me thinking about breathing, one of the physiological reasons why we’re alive. It read, “Drowning is almost always a deceptively quiet event. The waving, splashing, and yelling that dramatic conditioning (television) prepares us to look for, is rarely seen in real life… Except in rare circumstances, drowning people are physiologically unable to call out for help.”
It’s far too common to not ask for help when we need it, but what if that’s because we simply can’t breathe?
Breathing would be a lot easier if we spent our entire lives on the yoga mat. Coordinating one breath per yoga pose may seem like a big deal at first, but it’s nothing compared to the challenge of finding happiness in the midst of the most unhappy situations.
Coming up for air
We get really good at getting good in controlled, orderly environments. Like a yoga class or showing up for work each day or following your bedtime brush teeth, wash face, set the alarm ritual.
Maybe that’s why it’s so jarring when questions like, “What am I here for, anyway?” creep in and stop the bristles mid-brush.
This used to come up more frequently for me when life wasn’t so sweet, but the old pal checks in from time to time to remind me that, while I may think I’ve figured things out, I still haven’t got a clue. It’s not necessarily a bad thing to not know why or how or to what extent. In fact, this curiosity brings us closer to our unknowable truth.
But I can only think about life’s big questions for so long before it’s time to be okay with just breathing. With just showing up because I am here and maybe that is enough.
We often miss how the universe is bringing everything to us just when we need it because we’re too busy treading water. Don’t spend your entire life misidentifying what it is to drown.
Try it: Upward Plank Pose, Purvottanasana
Upward Plank and I haven’t always been best buds. My shoulders used to ache before I gained that flexibility, not to mention that the pose made me feel like I was in a calisthenics class.
Then I saw the pose through the lens of breath work. It’s less about why these poses and more about how. Bring the body back into alignment and the why of life is easier to process. A lifetime of forward folding and self-preservation is not to be outdone in one day or one pose, but this will help you get there.
- Sit in Staff Pose, Dandasana, with your legs outstretched, feet together and palms placed outside your hips with fingers pointed to your toes. Spread your fingers and inhale to lift the ribs and firm the shoulder blades onto your back.
- Take another inhale and press down into the palms to lift the hips. Press your big toes toward the ground.
- As you exhale, keep the back of your neck long and elongate your lower back by tucking your tailbone toward your feet.
- Stay for six to eight deep breaths, challenging yourself to hold the pose before your mind tells you to quit. Be mindful, however, of injury or pain that goes beyond discomfort. When ready to release, exhale and lower your hips to the ground.
What do you think you’re here for? Brave hearts, share in the comments.