The Meaning of Liff (Epiphany # 5: Priorities)

Cars. Clouds. A siren. Doors open and close. Someone is sweeping. I’m sitting with a pen in hand, hoping it’ll magically make me happier than I am. And only in the hoping, there is happiness. Because everything we build around our lives is a distraction.


Distractions of varying degrees force us to feel better about not knowing why we’re here, and for that we need to be forever grateful. If we built communities for less lonely living, what did we build civilisations for? Large, lonely buildings and busy streets lure us into lives of productivity. And it only seems natural. I mean, what’s wrong with productivity, right? Busy myself with ideas of purpose that are foreign to me because it helps to drug my mind into an accepting oblivion. There’s nothing wrong with productivity. Right?

She might know.


Her life is also built with distractions, but she despises them – most of them, anyway. Her day looks like this: she wakes up, she gets dressed, she goes there, she goes to that other place, comes back, gets undressed, sleeps, and wakes up again the next morning to do the same thing she did yesterday, knowing there will be tomorrow where she can be rest assured she will be doing the same things she does today. She wants to be a Writer and tells me that routine is the most heart-breaking feeling she has ever experienced. I want to reassure her, tell her it’s ok. But I remind myself that I am only a spectator in this play. She writes when she is inspired and she is inspired by little. It’s ok, I want to tell her. Inspiration is a little game we once made up that’s grown into a shy little boy who won’t say a word as long as he knows you’re going to write down everything he says and preserve it forever as art. But she wants a purpose to her life. She doesn’t want to be that, she wants to be this instead. She just wants to be free of routine and she thinks she can be free of it by being something else.


I’m sitting with a pen in hand, hoping I can tell the person next to me that I’m settled, I’m not searching anymore, I’ve found my purpose, the reason I was born. It makes me uncomfortable though, that thought. Writing makes me happier than anything else I do, but it’s because I can be completely honest if I choose to be. It’s my way of making sure I’m still sane, my very own imaginary friend, if that’s not too much of a contradiction. I know I wasn’t ‘born to write’- but I would like to be a Writer. What does this even mean? 


He warns me about these questions. He’s much older, spent more time in this chaos, and he knows the value of the orderly. After 50 years of not knowing why we’re here, every morning before he empties his bowels and makes his bed, he kisses the foundation stone that bears the weight of all the distractions he’s built around his life. When one lives that long without knowing why, one must allow oneself to be guided by petty routine if one doesn’t want to be separated from one’s sanity forever.


Distractions are strong blocks to build your life with. They don’t break easily. When no one’s looking, you can quickly replace an old one with a newer one. You can build wells and houses with them. And forts and bakeries. To dismiss them as unnecessary is to cut the branch you’re sitting on. So instead, I prioritise my distractions.


I would assume that people who strongly believe that we are here for no reason without having a choice about it, would also understand that contentment is the only logical counter to such a cruel predicament.


When the person next to me asks me what I do, I am now happy to say, “Nothing.”


[Awesome hand-lettering credit]



  1. I identify some parts of this post with what goes on my head sometimes… I loved this post. 🙂

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