As I prepared to fly up to a couple of remote communities this weekend, I figured I would relax a moment and take in the first season of the show Alone. If you have not seen it yet, take a gander here:

It is basically 10 survivalists, carrying 10 items they picked from a list, dropped in 10 very remote spots on northern Vancouver Island (season 1). No time limit, no camera crew, no way to get to the other participants. Just be the one who outlasts the others. Oh and make sure you set up your trail cameras in good spots so we have enough footage to make a show.

As you might imagine, it does not take long to have individuals pick up the satellite phone, their only lifeline, and ask to be retrieved. The GPS coordinates are followed, they show up within hours, and they lament into the camera how they let people down and did not want to end it line this. That is something they all have in common.

The first person is gone within 1 day. Before the first week is done, 4 have already moved on. Each one apologizing to people they love long before they will see the video.

So why do they all apologize? Why do they feel like they have let someone down? And for some, they talk themselves into leaving by talking about having left others at home. Did they just realize they would not be doing this at home?

Simply put, each person is having an existential crisis, and they are recording it all on video. It goes something like this:

  1. This situation looks terrifying. I think I know what to do.
  2. What I know is not working very well.
  3. I miss everyone at home and may be putting myself at risk.
  4. There is no one to talk to and I am having trouble not getting stuck in my own head.
  5. Why am I actually doing this?

“I could not think of a reason,” was the response of one person, as he reflected on that last question.

Within 1 to 5 days, depending on level of resolve, depth of knowledge, and ability to gain comfort, each participant asked that 5th question. Most could not answer it.

Purpose is elusive, even to the most skilled and capable in a given setting. Real purpose may need to be found through a challenging setting. Anyone can plan and imagine, but not everyone can remember why they have chosen a tough path once they are on it, let alone adapt to remain purposeful. As skill dulls, ambition wanes, and energy depletes, we see ourselves drift further and further from the meaning of it all.

Why am I here? Maybe revisit why you came here in the first place.

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