Anyone can die. It's living that takes true courage.

Searching For Meaning in Life’s Pandemonium

Poetry is a unique writing style where the author conveys complex ideas within few words. This is part of the reason I was drawn to poetry in my use. Even just half a sentence or a single word can cause a flood of imagery. Words like chaos, pandemonium, transcendence and exultation come to mind. A person may know their definition, but the imagery they see is unique. Poetry is a medium that plays with that imagery.

This is why I particularly love today’s poem. It’s one of my shorter pieces, which I think grants the words more impact. Taking up only one side of one page in my small notebook, it marks one of my early attempts at assigning meaning to life.

This poem was written on October 4, 2004. I was 14-years-old and a freshman in high school.

Life Is

Life is an untold promise we are to find

Life is the destiny of wisdom

and where it takes our lives

Life is a mystery

Life is a crime

Life is the richest thing alive.

Life is an eternal destiny that follows you and I

Life is the danger

and it’s the light

It’s more than a spirit

and more than might

Life is the probability that you will make a difference

and it dies when that hope is lost

So, when all hope is lost

Yet still, one is found

with faith in their heart

the world may still go ’round


It’s no secret that I didn’t have that glorious of a childhood. Plagued by unfortunate circumstances out of my control and interests outside of the norm, I had a rough time with bullies and low self-esteem. I hit a low in 2000 where, at 10 years of age, I nearly thought of ending my misery. Thinking myself too cowardly at the time to do such a thing, I chose to live.

Perhaps I was lucky to have my unique interest. Children often hold TV heroes in high esteem and my hero was one Kenshin Himura who once said, “Anyone can die. It’s living that takes true courage.” He was a darker character, even though the TV show was often comedic. Living in regret, he moved through the world searching for repentance for his war crimes. Surrounded by demons greater than I could imagine in 2000, 2004 or even now, he chose to live. He found a meaning to life and moved forward.

I don’t know how many people consciously choose to live or if most are alive simply because they are, but I made a choice in 2000. While I promised myself that night that I would commit to that decision, I still hadn’t found my own meaning for life.

That is the place this poem comes from. What is life really? Why is it ever worth living? The older I got, the more I became aware of pain and suffering in the world far greater than any I had every experienced. How did people manage to go on living? What motivation is there to seek another sunrise if there is no meaning?

In this poem I found my answer. Life is many things, but is all comes down to our ability to make a difference and leave our imprint on this world. Whether that mark is transcribed in a blog or in the hearts of those who happen to encounter us, that is the purpose that moves us forward.

…well, it’s what moves me forward.

Have you ever consciously chosen to live? What does life mean to you? How did/do you survive life’s low points? 

51 thoughts on “Searching For Meaning in Life’s Pandemonium”

  1. Very touching, and so true. Sometimes at lifes low points I wonder what keeps us going, then I think of the people in my life that are connected to me, the moments where I MATTER somewhere. And somehow? Thought it might be a pin prick of light in the nights sky, it matters to me.

    1. I completely understand. Sometimes, it’s such a struggle to see that light, but so long as there is the tiniest light, there is a reason to go on.

    1. But I wonder how many people really choose to live, or are most people alive just because they happened to wake up that morning, without ever actually choosing life over death?

      1. As soon as a person recognizes the play of suffering in his/her life, he/she has to face the question and most do I think at some time or the other. And they then just live on. And I think the choice is between a conscious life and an unconscious one, with the reality of death as a realizing tool of life’s importance.

  2. Amazing article. Firstly, I must say your poem is touching and it has great wisdom. Your question is also very profound. Consciously choosing life is more difficult for people who have been through difficulties because ending life seems ending the misery. Choosing life means passing the test, enduring the burden – a luthier must carve the wood with sharp tools, to make a violin. The intention is not to hurt or damage the wood. Our difficulties if endured with patience and resolve makes us stronger and we are able to help others through our experiences.
    In the words of the great poet Gibran
    “Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.”
    Stay strong and keep writing.

    1. Thanks for your kind words. I think people who have felt great suffering have considered death and consciously chosen life. But I wonder if everyone has suffered to that degree. Without that misery, does a person ever question why they are alive?

      1. Your question once again is very profound. Both philosophically and psychologically. People of faith tend to see life and death very different then others. So death is often seen as a sin and those people choose life as they feel there’s a reward eventually. As for others there’s definitely a psychological side, i.e., depression is a disease and the need to overcome is to choose life. The question of degree is truly based on the person. To some fear of things can escalate into depression while others go through more traumatic experiences like war. We are all confounded by the limitations of our minds ( or in the case of faith, limitations of our souls). I have seen first hand what depression can do to people. I volunteer for a non-profit group that helps people battling mental illness.

        You have the right attitude, choosing life is always the right choice, but it’s not an easy one. Keep dreaming, keep writing, stay strong.

  3. I don’t remember a time when I consciously decided to live. Life means being passionate and loving and embracing every opportunity. Life means not getting jaded. I believe I survive(d) life’s low points through songwriting more than anything. Even at my lowest point, I am able to find hope through a song, through the music and the lyrics. Great post, as always, TK. :)

    1. Very true. We all need our outlet. I still find writing works best for me. I’ll do it sometimes even when I’m extremely angry at someone. I’ll stop and write it all out, sometimes choosing to give them the note instead of speaking out loud. I know I communicate better that way and I especially communicate extreme emotions better that way.

  4. How does one get through the low points? That is a difficult question. My lowest point was when my husband passed away eight years ago. My kids, my family, and my Faith kept me going. I had to be there for them. Life is for so much more than just us as individuals. I believe we are here to not just live our own lives, but to help others — to make a difference, as you said — in whatever ways we can. That, in itself, makes life worth living.

    1. exactly. Sometimes, though, people get into a funk where it can be hard to see where you make a difference. That spark of light in the darkness always has to be there, or we’ll lose hope.

  5. I wonder that too when child. I came to the conclusion that there is no meaning, not gods nor reason to feel pride or to feel guilt. I think it feels similar to what, I guess, a Buddhist feels when gets paranirvana.

    1. But even a Buddhist has purpose. I forget the exact phrase, but there’s an idea in Buddhism that everything is already broken. Everything we hold day will one day cease to be. To some, that may be a sad thought, but what it really means is that we need to value what we have while we have it. When it’s gone, we should rejoice that we had it at all. That, in itself, is a purpose.

  6. I’ve never given up on life, and life has never given up on me. We have clung madly to each other in spite of despair, poverty, homeless spells, and categorical social rejection. In my view, life should be what keeps us going no matter what happens.

    I have a friend who once countered me with an argument that it takes a lot of courage for one to take their own life, but to this day I disagree. I think you got it right.

    1. When I chose to live, I thought myself cowardly for not taking my own life. It was only after choosing to live that I figured out how hard that was. My mom has described suicide as a selfish act, but I don’t really think it’s that either. Someone takes their own life when they feel like they are at a complete loss. I remember thinking about my family and friends, reasoning out how they wouldn’t be effected at all by my death. You have to remove yourself from life to such a degree that you not only think your life means nothing, but that your death won’t either.

      Of course, that’s flawed logic… but I don’t think it’s selfish logic either. Someone who takes their own life is operating off of an unhealthy mind.

      1. True, that. But while I get the selfish angle, I agree that that’s not exactly right. It could be considered selfish that a person might take their life without the consideration of that action’s impact on others, especially friends and family — and from a parental standpoint there are multiple dimensions because you have to inter your child, which I’m sure is incredibly stressful on so many levels — but as you say, the person who thinks it’s selfish is also failing to see things from the other point of view: that of the potential suicide.

  7. The 1st and only time J broke up with me I fell into a dark, dark pit of despair. I stopped eating, I would just lie in bed crying missing him and being far to young to understand the concepts of “not forever” “just for now” and “I want to spend more time with friends.” The words he said of our future were just that to me, words. I felt a self-loathing I had never felt before. One night, alone in my house, I decided I wanted to die. I went to the kitchen and stood on the cold cement floor with a knife in one hand and stared at my wrist. Standing there with tears streaming down my face at 17 I felt oblivion. It struck me how easy it would be to just cut my wrist but then, how painful it would feel when I had finally done it. How I’d truly never see him again if I went through with it which would solve nothing. So, I put the knife back and for the first time in months I gained resolve. The solution was so crazy obvious I was disappointed in myself for not thinking of it first. Ah the angsty teen years. The next day, I passed him in the hall, pushed him into a wall, and yelled, “why won’t you talk to me!” He calmly looked at me and said, “meet me on msn messenger tonight at 7.” The rest is history <3

    1. That’s basically my story, except for me, it was a pair of scissors. I stared at them and I stared at my wrists and it struck me how easy it would be. I knew it would hurt, but I was already hurting, so what did that matter? The one thing that night that kept me going was that I hated proving my peers right more than I hated myself. That is the only reason I put the scissors down that night, but when I did, I promised myself I’d stick to this being alive thing and prove them all wrong.

      Those thoughts evolved into something less anger driven over time, but in that moment, anger was all I had to save me.

  8. “Life is many things, but is all comes down to our ability to make a difference and leave our imprint on this world. Whether that mark is transcribed in a blog or in the hearts of those who happen to encounter us, that is the purpose that moves us forward.”

    Yes, that’s the conclusion I’ve also come to, after much searching, myself.

    Thanks for such a thoughtful post.

  9. I love your post! The way you articulate your past, present, and future; who you were, are, and look to become. The part that got me is that you found inspiration in something and that helped you to become, to aspire. Going off that note I don’t think people really understand the power of inspiration. It is a very underrated and undervalued tool that is constantly intertwined with human life and success. Anyways, great post as always.

    1. I agree. I find inspiration from my nerdy endeavors: books, graphic novels, anime, video games, etc. People have tried to tell me some of those interests are just a phase, but I’ve carried them through to my adult life because my creative pursuits are important to me. Those are the things that inspire me, and so they have value. I think a lot of people value money more than they do inspiration in their lives. The funny thing is, what good is money if you’re not inspired to use it for something?

  10. I don’t think many people consciously choose to live unless they’ve had reason to seriously consider the alternative. Most people don’t even register that there is a choice to be made, they just take life for granted.

  11. Love the poem!! I can relate to your “choice” unfortunately too well, then again, thank God for that, if I couldn’t then I wouldn’t be pushing the boundaries of the iPhone spell checker right now, I’d be too busy pushing daisies :)

      1. I certainly think it provides a drive that can be difficult to comprehend. Maybe a greater appreciation if certain things too.

        It also makes it much easier to sympathize with those in a place of difficulty. It never ceases to amaze me the different perspectives that my wife and I will have if we watch a documentary on say a musician who died young (for whatever reason)

  12. I was prescribed max doses of Klonopin. It’s a medication from the benzodiazepine family of drugs. Benzos are downers. I hated myself for 8 years. It wasn’t long after I started this medicine, that I tried to take my own life. Granted, this was also in lieu of a traumatic brain injury. Anyhow, I can relate. I’m off Klonopin nowadays, but I’d be lying if I said I never have days where I get down, anymore. That’s the thing, it’s just that. A day! Maybe the next one will be better. Maybe not. But you should always look forward to finding out!

    Keep your head up friend!

    1. I agree. I can see that now, but high school and middle school is a world like no other. You don’t have the ability to see that it can get better. That’s not a justification, I’m just saying that it can be hard when you get to a point where, in your mind, it’s so much more than a day.

  13. “Life is a crime.” For some reason that was like cold water splashing onto my face.

    Sharing this! Very relevant to what goes on in my head these days on the long daily commutes. What is life but the same 24 hours, cycling over and over again once every 24 hours?

    1. That line holds a lot of meaning and I think what you take from it depends on the person. There are ways in which life is unfair but there are also ways in which our lives instigate harm on the world.

      But, that the end of the day, real life is having hope that you might make a difference. Otherwise, you’re just existing.

  14. When I am in a low point, i just remind myself with a simple thought process: “Jason, this is insane.It’s going to work out one way or another and I can’t control it, and there’s always an out. I can ditch whatever this is and completely do the opposite thing I didn’t think I’d do, or anybody would suspect I’ll do. F*ck it, let’s see what happens, it can always be worse..” That’s literally what i do, or something along these lines. Hope and faith go hand in hand with people who survive bullying. I should know, because I was, and I am. Hope and faith are gold.

    1. My mantra is “things will happen as they should.” Things may not work out the way I want them to or in the way I expect them to, but they will find a way to work themselves out as they are meant to be.

  15. Abundant Life as a commodity may be appropriated for the asking from the heart of Christ. We tend to think that it has to be learned or earned. NOT. He is far too generous for that, and we have stuff that will not pass the bar without transformation by faith. Have a great day…Doug

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