It is a problem that I know a lot of people are struggling with. No one wants to be insignificant. Everybody would like to believe that they are attaining something in life. That is wasn’t for nothing. To become immortal in some way. I guess it’s hardwired in our DNA.
Frum teenagers are taught that tzaddikim (righteous) are called chayim (‘alive’), even when they are dead. So I very much wanted to learn, to davven (pray), bring God’s light in the world and become a ‘gadol’ (great person).
With all respect to Reb Zusha, who taught us that we would not be asked after 120 years why he didn’t become like Moses but why he wasn’t Reb Zusha, still he was Reb Zusha and it neevertheless remained of utmost importance to try to be like Moses.
Little kids get a bib with the words ‘Little Tzaddik’ on it. How often did I not hear parents hope that their children become talmidei chachomim (sages) and in yeshivos there definitely is a pressure that you should strive to be perfect.
After the disillusion that my learning was just average, that I couldn’t become the tzaddik I wanted to become and that I knew I would want to earn a living for my family (which would mean that I would have to stop learning full-time somewhere down the line), I still had the feeling that I needed and wanted to do something grand for mankind.
Then reality slowly kicked in. I started working for a company where all I did was helping our IT department to be more efficient and save money for that firm. After a few years, this became rather depressive. I started thinking that my ambitions would never make me happy.
A job counselor was happy to help me out and subjected me to psychological tests. Although I did learn a bit more about myself, the only outcome was that I should start learning psychology at a university, approaching the forty with a wife and two kids. Hardly an option.
I have since told myself that the only way to be happier is to confront myself with myself and learn more about what I really want and what I really believe.
Every day, the belief that there is a potential in me, waiting to be unlocked, drills in my brain like Woody Woodpecker in a tree. But who says that this revelation will just happen to everyone?
Searching for a higher purpose in life is like a tattoo that, as you grow older, looks more wrinkled and pale.