What do you need from this life?

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“What do you need from this life?”

I was reading Carter Beats the Devil when I read this line. My breath caught. It was the question I didn’t know that I’d been waiting to be asked.

My life is a blank page right now, and I’m trying to figure out my next steps. Having a blank canvas and deciding what to make on it is every bit as daunting as generations of creators have time and time again pointed out.

Not for a lack of ideas: There’s a LOT I want to do. I would like to spend two weeks in a Mars colony simulation, like Kellie Gerardi just was. I want to travel to the furthest ends of the earth and make things. From studying the neuroscience of illusion to live action role-play game design to the human rights of architecture and even beyond, I have an endlessly growing list of people, studios, companies, fields, and ideas that interest me.

Compile those with the experiences and skills I already have, that’s a lot of options to pick between. There’s not enough room in one lifetime to do everything I want–though I realize this voracious curiosity is a great problem to have.

But there, staring back at me from the page, was the most obvious thing. Not what do I want, but what do I need? 

I need to make things. Good things. With great people. I need challenge and reward. Challenge and failure. I need to be close to people, and have the ability to tell them the scariest, hardest things, and for them to feel comfortable telling me the same. And to celebrate the happiest things. I need to see as much of this beautiful planet as I can. If it becomes possible for me to temporarily leave this planet, I need that more than anything. Permanently? Maybe one day. I need to share the universe’s beauty with other people. I need to see that empathy and love exist. I need clever humor and bad puns and brilliant laughter. I need good food. Star gazing. Books and music and art. I need to be places where I can ask “why,” and feel it is okay to challenge the status quo. To innovate. To not just do things because that’s how they’ve always been done.

That’s a lot, I realize. But, suddenly, that’s infinitely more attainable. Almost any route I take in life will be guaranteed to bring me some of these, and if I work hard and strive my hardest, maybe even most of these.

It’s beginning to feel like I have a plan. The world’s most abstract, least-organized plan (particularly for someone who enjoys color-coded schedules), but, still, a plan. I am searching out what I need.

So… What do you need from this life?


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  • Phil Haney

    “And all I ask is a tall ship, and a star to steer her by.” -John Masefield

    This is a very good blog post, Daphne. For is does raise a question, long unanswered, in the depths of my own mind. I have a long list of wants, but when was the last time I took a good look at my needs?

    What do I *need* from this life?

    Well, beyond the basic necessities (food, water, shelter, etc., which the Lord has provided me with in abundance):

    I need to make people happy. I need to brighten their countenance, lift them up, make them feel better than they did a minute ago, and leave them in a more positive state than when I found them.

    I need a sense of satisfaction. The kind you get from a job well done. And to feel appreciated. For if there is no satisfaction derived from my labors, then I labor to what purpose? As a cog in the Great Machine of life, grinding out my existence? Nay, I strive to be more than a mere cog, just schlogging along, maintaining the status quo. My goal is to constantly improve the Machine, making it better and better, for the betterment of all. And I can only know I have accomplished that from a sense of satisfaction. The kind you get from a job well done.

    And I need to contribute. To the Great Machine. To my fellow man. If I sit idly by, always taking, and others follow my example, eventually there won’t be anything left.

    And that would suck.

    So, to make people happy, to contribute, and a sense of satisfaction, that’s what I *need* from this life.

    Thanks for asking the question!

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