I was afraid of Alzheimer’s disease. My grandfather died with it.
It was awful for the family, specially for his sons. His wife (my grandmother) accepted it as soon as she could and learned to live with it. She cared for him until he died.
But years before that happened, he was no longer there. He would recognize you one day, and do the same the next day. Imagine being able to repeat the day you met your child, again and again. Until he didn’t anymore. There is always something positive and negative in every situation.
We all start our path with a formed mind, which is pre-loaded with memories. When you think of the day you started being being conscious, you recall your earliest memory. A classroom, a birthday party, a toy. Something you know happened when you were a young child.
A sequence of memories form a line, and time with it. A timeline. So is time real? If you say yes, then please tell me where can I see it. If you point at a clock, I’ll tell you it is a plate with a couple antennas and some gears behind it, but that is not time, it is a clock.
You know there was a day before because of memory. That memory exists is an incontrovertible fact.
What are memories good for? You could be safe from danger by instinct. When a large animal charges at you, you don’t need a memory to run or jump out of the way.
You could live and enjoy every day without memory. Look at the sky, feel the cold, the grass or taste a fruit. These all are experiences that do not require a memory to be enjoyed.
Purpose is not a question of time, but of memory.
Memory gives you an image of the past. An image that you can compare with what in the moment “just is”. And you can either go the way of “judging” or the way of “changing”. This is the classic “complaining-acting” dichotomy, but we’ll discuss that some other time.
Imagine you are in the first day of your existence, as an adult, with no previous memories. Like Adam in paradise. You see the garden around you, and just enjoy this first day. You explore the garden as much as you can.
Then the next day comes. And you remember. There are things you already “did”. And you can either choose to do the same things or do something different. Some may say they would do the same thing if they enjoyed them. Why were these activities preferable to others? Were you better at them? Do you want to get better at them? Either way, any choice is able to be evaluated because of memory.
You can even choose to live with or without memories, just like you can decide to think or not to think.
Everyone thinks of purpose as a goal in life, or the goal of life. To get X. To achieve Y. Even if it’s not a definite outcome, like when someone says “My purpose in life is to help as many people as I can.”, this person is thinking of an outcome (a succession of days where he did something). How can this, or any outcome be evaluated? What’s the [thing] you are going to look at to check your purpose?
People is unconsciously making “having a purpose” the purpose itself.
But just like there are things that are real, that exist, to some that do not, there must be a truthful way to answer the question about life’s purpose.
When you choose to live with memories, the answer lies with memories.
The Purpose of Life is to build.
In the same garden you can choose to enhance it. Maybe build a hut to have more options (to get wet when it rains or not). Or a road to travel faster between your preferred spots in the garden. And so on.
The same with some intangible, but real things, like relationships.
Do you want a more specific answer? How about: “What is MY purpose in life?”
Just by really looking at Reality, you can find all the answers you seek. If you are wondering “what’s my purpose in life?” you cannot expect anyone to come to your help with an easy-to-execute answer. Nobody is going to tell you (nor should anyone try to do so) “your purpose is to become a veterinarian”, because they would be missing the point.
You were born with specific characteristics, talents and preferences. If the purpose of life is “to build”, your purpose is to build your creation. Whatever you choose will be fine, BECAUSE IT TRULY IS. You will be recalling last day’s progress or setback, to adjust your actions for the next day. You now know you will be fulfilling life’s purpose, which is to build, by doing what you’re good at, and like (or dislike, if you’re good at suffering and enduring pain) and building on that.
Living without memories
Without memories, you would be living only in the moment. When you’re there, the only thing to do is to explore.