Anyone want to trade consciences with me? (Epiphany #3: It’s a trick.)

Sometimes I feel tormented by the thought that I might never find something meaningful enough to do with my life. So I find little ‘meaningful’ things to do every now and then, hoping that I’ll find something I like as well as feel like I’m busy doing things.

And then I’m tormented by the thought that it’s this petty satisfaction that keeps people from making ‘real’ meaningful change. Teju Cole, a Nigerian-American writer and photographer, writes, “The White Savior Industrial Complex is not about justice. It is about having a big emotional experience that validates privilege.”

Then I’m tormented by the thought that since definitions of meaningful are not only subjective, but also pretty much man-made, the above mentioned worries about distinguishing between eye-wash-meaningful and meaningful-meaningful and then finding something ‘actually meaningful to do with my life’ are just the other cleverly disguised tracks in the infamous Rat Race.

So then I’m tormented by the thought that the previous thought might just be a way of getting away with inaction. (Many people I know think that living quietly as a part of a sustainable community is making little, isolated change. They say solutions that will actually make a difference are those that strive to make systemic change.) So no big, black mountain dog and a tiny adobe house on a forest-hill for my conscience, please.

You see why it’s a trick?

Because there’s no end to it. This whole purpose thing is built to deceive one into good behaviour and guilt. Guilty good behaviour.

It’s one big vicious cycle. Giant Hamster Ferris Wheel. Never ending dominoes. Intestinal roller coaster where the anus ends at the mouth. Sorry.

So. I’m going to wake up 30 years hence, and sob violently into my pillow about how unfairly I have treated my life, and how I still don’t know what my life is for, etc. If I can do it at 19, I’m pretty sure I can do it at 50.

For comic:



  1. Vijay

    Dilemma well articulated Srivi. Please do reflect within on who is articulating and who is listening. Thanks for a wake up call/reminding me of Bhaja Govindam and Nirvana Shatakam Stotra by Adi Sankara. Lots of Love.

  2. Thanks 🙂
    Also, elaborate on what I reminded you of?

  3. keerthanasankaran

    well written.and i know exactly what you mean.i feel the same most of the time.i look at other people who have figured out their lives pretty well.they have found that one thing that they are good at.i get really jealous of them.i am looking for that one passion amongst all other shallow interests.

  4. It’s like being between knowing without a shadow of doubt and actually living off the shadows of doubts. Sometimes i wonder how i’ll get past the feeling of not being up to my own benchmark while seemingly everyone else waltzes right ahead of me. Even the ones i hardly expect to excel. But of course eventually the gap will close itself, or so they say and so i hope. Until then all we have to do is speculate and wait it out. Frustrating, and incredibly confusing in the most vague way. But that’s life, isn’t it? Delicious, infuriating ambiguity.

    • The Epiphany Machine

      Ambiguity IS delicious, isn’t it?! But yeah, I know what you mean. Although, your comment only reminds me that part of the frustration is that I think I’m the only one who has confusions like these. Good to keep reminding myself I’m not 🙂 Thanks, you.

  5. Oh well… this is something am sure all of us go through. Those of us who think about their lives on terms other than just work, money or anything material, atleast. Its a fear most of us , that we might have spent all our life doing nothing worthwhile, and so guilt ourselves into doing something that will look worthwhile. I guess we forget that the only person it should matter to is us, the person that’s doing it.

    This didn’t happen to me overnight, it was a long process. I think I started feeling this when I was 26-27 and the thought of not doing anything meaningful actually took shape a couple of years later. What did I do then, you might ask? 🙂 Nothing. I chose to not act on it. If I did, it would mean giving my job, which I really need and really love, and be in search of things that will look meaningful
    Instead, I’ve learnt to let universe take charge. I’ll do what I want to do, irrespective of the guilt that hits that am not doing enough social service or keeping my family happy by adhering to certain norms etc… and if what I do is keeping me happy today, that’s all that matters.

    Well, its not helped much. I still feel guilty sometimes at the things I’ve done or could do or opportunities that I missed… but then, that’s life. You cant have all. What matters is that I am happy today. Coz no one else is living your life, right! 🙂

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