Why Are We Here?

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Spring sunsetHave you ever wondered why you are here? Why on earth? Why alive? Why do we exist at all? When I was a why-asking toddler, I am sure I drove my parents nuts. I wanted to know why, why, why for everything. Why do I have to go to sleep? Why can’t I have more ice cream? Why do mosquitoes bite? Why is today Sunday? The list was endless as every answer inspired more questions.

Because That’s Just the Way the World Works?

As I grew and my understanding of the world became broader, the questions, driven by an unstoppable curiosity, took different directions, but never did they subside or reduce in number. When I became a parent of why-asking children, my answers were as explanatory as they could be until I reached the end of my knowledge. At that point, I would tell my children, “because that’s just the way the world works“. Their acceptance of that answer had a tremendous impact on my own philosophical development. Though I still question everything around me with “why” being the most prevalent of all questions, I have come to a peaceful acceptance that some things cannot be answered specifically because that’s just the way the world works.

Three Themes for Our Existence

I do not know the most basic answer to the question, “why are we here?” but I have thousands of answers that follow that elusive first answer. I think that all the answers beyond the most basic can be categorized into three themes:

  1. enjoyment
  2. rich and deep experiences
  3. to reconnect body, mind, and soul

Why Are We Here? Enjoyment

There are simply too many things in the natural environment that bring enjoyment to the human experience for there not to be a reason for us to be here. The first big blast of snow for example, no matter how unprepared we are for it, brings squeals of delight, pleasant memories of childhood, and that magical belief in Santa. The first red robin in spring brings hope and renewal to the human heart. Warm sunshine, countered with a cool breeze on tender cheeks settles the soul and inspires a spontaneous smile. Bursts of floral colors are sources of enjoyment as well.

How about those funny antics of all the different creatures around? I can’t help but giggle when I see squirrels scamper around each other, up one side of a tree and down the other, then off to another tree where one of them finally slips, spins around the branch, and is rebalanced by the quivering of that bushy tail. And then there are all those funny looking feathered friends we share the earth with – pointed beaks, spindly legs, quirky movements, and the myriad of crowns and hat-like tops that adorn their heads. These things are truly funny and they bring enjoyment to the human experience.

Think about the domestic kitten that climbs the curtains, bats at a lone fly, then falls both gracefully and dramatically to the floor. The family dog that chases his tail and greets you with wet kisses and tireless delight when you come home from a tough day at work is another source of enjoyment. I love to sit in a crowded city center and watch people for enjoyment. People are every bit as funny as the animals and at least as colorful as tropical fauna. I remember watching a young Italian girl, no more than five or six, chewing out a little boy the same age. He looked confused by her tyrade, clearly wondering what he had done to cause it. She was red in the face, arms flailing about to add emphasis and stomping a foot periodically to punctuate her points. I had no idea what she was saying, but the scene made me laugh out loud then, and it still brings a smile to my face when I recall it. These are examples of simple enjoyment we find in our surroundings.

Yes, everything around us is potential for entertainment and a source for enjoyment. I am not exactly sure why we are here, but I am certain that at least part of it is to experience the enjoyment of this world.

Why Are We Here? Rich, Deep Experiences

Maldivian SunsetI am certain that we are here because we are intended to experience the profound. To witness the arrival of new life, or the exit of the soul from a life long lived is to partake in one of the most powerful of all life’s experiences. We contemplate the question “why are we here” when we get a glimpse of life’s miracle and realize how fragile it is. Though we may not understand it, we are deeply moved to be so close to the revelation that human life is precious.

Love is universal and it is rich with emotion, desire, motivation, and passion; it causes us to make decisions that shape our lives. We are here so we can experience love. Some people find love in all their days and at very turn in their lives. Other fight love, some just for a season or two, some for a whole life time. Love hurts, disappoints, even devastates, yet love is a driving force in human life because it also rejuvenates and gives us an identity. We seek it and we treasure it; we savor the many stages of love and the many different kinds. We spend our whole lives trying to understand love, all the while expressing our love for ourselves, the people in our lives, and the things we experience and acquire.

Tragedy and loss are also deep life experiences we are intended to have. We grow to find an appreciation for life through loss. We discover new meanings to life through heartache and loneliness. We gain new skills, new ideas, and a new perspective by surviving some unforeseen tragedy. Disappointment leads to a new resolve; loss is balanced with a new gain. We never welcome these unpleasant experiences, yet when we come through to the other side, we are elated by all the new that emerges.

Life is full of rich, deep experiences. Through it all, we grow. I am not sure why we are here, but I am certain that we have been placed here to experience the steady rising and receding events that produce these profound experiences.

Why Are We Here? To Reconnect Body, Mind, and Soul

I think that we are eternal souls and that the human experience is merely a short season in which our souls are contained in a human body and mind. For whatever reason, our souls have chosen to have the human experience because of the challenge it brings to merge the soul with human form into one entity. To meet this challenge is somehow necessary for soul growth.

Think about it: what do you do to bond this strange earth venture with the soul that too easily becomes buried beneath the rubbish of the daily details tied to the earth experience? To put it another way, how do you find God and connect with that God? Certainly the first two categories have significance on this one, and no doubt this one affects your attitude and approach to the first two. Some people find spiritual renewal in the dew damp tips of morning grass and other silent moments in the presence of self and nature. Others find God in their relationships with others. And many of us experience a surreal connection with a powerful spirit beyond our own existence when we endure hardship and come out the victor.

For most of us however, it is a combination of all of life’s experiences that set us into random spirals of awe and inspiration and in those moments, we know what it is to be in a profound moment, experiencing enjoyment, and being fully connected, if only for a brief, fleeting moment, with all that is and ever has been. This is why we are here: to experience and know these things with a full openness that is tender, naive, and pure.

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River is an independent writer and consultant. With a Master's degree in teaching English as a second language from Ball State University. She lived in Japan for 15 years teaching and editing. Now based in the U.S., she works for a variety of clients. Published work can be found in print, online at various websites, and at goarticles.com. River blogs about writing, design, cooking, pets and thoughts about life.

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Logan Parumal
Lovely article appeasing to read. My cynical issue is – did I have a choice of being born to be here? I didnt have the chance to make this choice. The second most difficult question to answer why are human here in this earth? From an evolutionary argument- we came from the simple single sell creature, that evolved to become us humans. This would definitely go against the ‘creation’ argument. If the environment and substances are ideal for a simple life to be created, than there might be more life in the universe. The dilemna is a religious vs science argument. I’m more skewed towards scientfic rather than religious reasons- as to why and how I’m here.
Anonymous
Wow, this is beatiful. Such a heartfelt and open-minded explanation of why each of us can enjoy our short stay on planet Earth for our own reasons.

I’m a big fan of living in the moment and being as happy as we can be, and I feel that we can live a fulfilled life by keeping our minds focused on what’s important in the day to day.

But still…I can’t help but wonder…why? Why do we exist? There’s got to be some overarching reason all this is taking place – the odds of our planet forming in the vast expanse that is the Universe and holding the smallest of possibilites that life, in its various forms, all the way to the intelligence our species has been blessed with, has had the chance to “happen.”

As much as I can only go on by taking part in my day to day tasks, I don’t think I’ll ever stop wondering why….why and how and what is the reason for it all??

Anonymous
Thank you for your comment. I think that the perpetual questioning is key to our quality of life and I mean life beyond those daily tasks and responsibilities. This is where the awe lies, isn’t it?
Anonymous
Ahhh, the existential questions of life. Let’s face it folks – I don’t think we’ll ever know the answer to the question “Why are we here?” Why? Because if we did, that would kind of destroy the purpose for existing. I’m pretty sure humans, and maybe animals in general, thrive on not knowing. If there was an obvious answer to our existence, either some of us would lose the will to live (those that disagree with the reason), or we would be boring, mindless followers of a single cause, thereby losing our will power anyways.

In other words, will power is generated by the unknown. How’s that food for thought?