I discovered that there was a field called philosophy when I was about 17-years-old. I came to understand that philosophy had to do with loving wisdom and actively engaging in wonder. As a child, I was obsessed with the meaning of death. Why do we exist only to die? I was obsessed with God and religion. If God exists, why does God not make it easy to know this? And which religion provides the truth about God? I was also obsessed about the meaning of my own existence. Why am I here at all? So, once I discovered that philosophers wondered about these sorts of questions, I knew that the practice of philosophy spoke to me about myself, spoke to me about my destiny, spoke to me about my service to the world, spoke to me about my inner life and my commitment, though fallible, to self-honesty. Given the emotional, existential, and conceptual complexity and weight of such questions, I continue to struggle with them, to make sense of them, and to attempt to provide some type of satisfying answer to them.
I have come to think of philosophy as a form of passion, which means a form of suffering. Why suffering? Again, the weight of these issues move my spirit, they shake my body (literally). Philosophy is more than what takes place within the theater of academic settings; it is about something that I embody, something that weighs heavily upon my heart and soul; it is an expression of how I stand before this great existential enigma (call it existence/being) and suffer under the magnitude of its mystery.
So, why do I continue to engage in philosophy? I engage in philosophy because I continue to exist. And by "engaging in" philosophy, I don't mean why I continue to study and teach philosophy as a profession. I engage in philosophy because I'm in pain. It is a form of pain that we all should experience. It is the pain of not knowing for certain, of wondering if there is anything more than this vast cosmos that will either continue to expand or collapse; it is the pain of not knowing if this short period of being here is just that; it is the weight of trying to be the best that I can be (ethically) even as I falter; it is the weight of wondering if I can make a single contribution to humanity that will make a meaningful contribution.
The child who obsessed about death, God, and the meaning of human existence, and the 17-year-old who discovered philosophy, is the same person who continues to feel, though always as if in a fog, the grace of being and who continues to be filled with passion as he confronts the reality of his finitude.