The Unexamined Life Is Not Worth Living
Feb 8 2009

The title of this post is a famous quote by Socrates that he apparently uttered while on trial for heresy and for corrupting the minds of the youth of Athens.  For some unknown reason, the past few days this saying kept coming to my mind despite not having read or thought about it for years.  Actually, I have not read much of Greek philosophy although I loved Greek and Roman mythology growing up.  I’ve learned not to question these kinds of thoughts that appear in my mind too hard, and I try to find an outlet for them.   Of course, after the thought appeared a blog post also started to form in my mind.  I don’t think I realized that until I started blogging how much writing has become an outlet for me, and when I don’t get to write consistently, I start to feel a little stuck, ill, and sometimes a little nutty.  Unlike some bloggers who let it ALL hang out, since this is a public blog, I am careful about what I do write about and how I write about it.

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Another instance in time that a writing related thought entered my mind was when I was walking my then probably 7 month old son around the neighborhood. Out of the clear blue, I received a thought that said something like ‘write about the Meaning of Life.’  At first I said to myself “What the heck do I know about the meaning of life?“  I sat with that thought for a while and then dismissed it for months.  But it came back to me so I started telling people I was going to write a book about the Meaning of Life.   I even interviewed a few people who would talk to me about such a hard to discuss topic.  Interestingly, the two people I recall being most comfortable talking to me were Kinky Friedman (pdf) (who you may know as the irreverent singer in The Texas Jew Boys band and the crazy guy who ran for Texas governor) and one of my favorite business mentors/advisers Jack Baum (pdf).   I met Kinky on his ranch and the experience of interviewing him while he smoked his multiple cigars and tried to hit on me a few times was enlightening! :-)   They apparently didn’t care about what people thought about their thoughts on the meaning of life, but most people felt really uncomfortable talking about the topic, so I eventually morphed the project into “The Meaning of Success.” I even created a book proposal because after I changed the topic, I found several people interested in talking to me.

I showed the book proposal to a couple of agents and even a self publisher but then decided it wasn’t the right time in my life to pursue it full force.  [Side note: I just took a quick glance at what I had written and thought to myself that maybe one day I'll dust it off and show it to someone again.]  So after feeling somewhat of a failure for not being able to bring it to fruition at that time, I reached out to a writer who I had stayed in touch with who had written about me when I was running my first high tech venture, and I asked her if she would like to help me find an audience for what I had compiled.  That conversation resulted in us writing a series on Success for the University of Texas at Austin alumni magazine.  So I hope that by turning the original thought that came to me while walking my son over 5 years ago into that series, we helped someone examine their life and its impact on others.   Maybe, that’s why that thought came to me.  I will never know, but I do know I learned something from each and every person I interviewed, and I hope they learned something valuable from me.

It’s interesting how often thoughts like these enter my mind.  Even before starting Babble Soft, I had a thought about creating something to help new parents, but in hindsight I’ve come to understand that the source of that thought was different than the source of the writing on the meaning of life thought.  I still haven’t been able to understand why I know the source was different but it was.

It’s taken me a long time to be comfortable saying some of my thoughts out loud because sometimes they don’t make sense to me and I start questioning my sanity.  Often I still don’t say them out loud because I worry about what others would think.  But after talking with friends who hear me say these odd things, I discovered that they sometimes made more sense to them at the time than they did to me.   These thoughts also help me examine my life which I do on a fairly constant basis but even more deeply recently than I have ever done before.  Some call it a mid-life crisis.  I call it painful!

Now I actually wouldn’t go as far as Socrates and say “the unexamined life is not worth living” because to me it actually is.  Because for those of us who are examining our lives, tripping on ourselves, and experiencing growing pains, having the opportunity to observe people who don’t examine theirs the same way is profound.  I think everyone does examine their life at some point…but the way they do it is as unique as thier finger prints.

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3 Comments on “The Unexamined Life Is Not Worth Living”

  1. 1 Erin Defosse said at 6:14 AM on February 9th, 2009:

    You are right that everyone must, in their own way, examine their own life….even if the way they do it might seem to us as “non-examination”. The way I examine my life is not by looking at my past and judging it per se but by looking at what I want to achieve in the future and see if what I’m doing today is helping me get there. I may not get there but that is OK. I think it is the journey that keeps me excited.

    I also think about your comment on how it is hard for you to say what you feel/think and that reminded me of the book I’m currently reading called “The Language Instinct” (look it up on Amazon) that tries to explain how and why humans acquire and use language. The author posits that all humans think, not in English or any other language, but in something called “Mentalese”. So, I bring this up because what strikes me about your comment is that perhaps your Mentalese is very complex and that is why English is not a good way for you to express yourself. Perhaps art, signing, and other means of expression could help you to convey your Mentalese. Just a thought.

  2. 2 Aruni said at 8:19 PM on February 9th, 2009:

    Erin – It’s great that you are are excited about and can focus on the journey. I’m still trying to figure out if I’m choosing my journey or it’s choosing me…guess it really doesn’t matter.

    You may be right that I need to express my Mentalese through singing or another form!

  3. 3 Live and Learn | said at 4:09 AM on February 12th, 2009:

    [...] Aruni of EntrepreMusings , I took something from each family, from each employer, even from past employees, I could usually [...]