“Despair = Suffering – Meaning”
Depression is rooted in the struggle to find and feel a sense of purpose and value in one’s life and in one’s self. It is not the absence of happiness, per se, but the absence of meaning in one’s sadness and in one’s suffering. Suffering without meaning leads to despair. The path out of despair is not found in the search for happiness, but in the search for meaning, for a sense of purpose.
As with anyone who struggles with depression, I have had many days where I have questioned whether or not the feelings of hopelessness and sadness would ever end. I have had many days where I have questioned my own value and worth and many days when I have asked myself if it was all worth it. The space in between these days, the space within which I can breathe and smile, a space which, over the years has grown more real and more vast, I attribute directly to my sense of purpose and meaning.
The discovery of my purpose began one day with the thought that I may never be ‘the best’ at anything, that I would be eternally average. In the midst of all of this egotistical fear and noise, a sense of calm washed over me and my purpose became clear. Maybe my path is not one of greatness or to be the best at any particular endeavor. Maybe my purpose has nothing to do with me at all. Perhaps my life’s meaning is to be found in service, to create a space for others to be the best versions of themselves, to work towards their own greatness, and to discover their own value and meaning.
“As in life, so too it is in budo. As in budo, so too it is in life.”