Answering the profound question, why am I here?

I must be getting more philosophical as the years go by. I often find myself standing in the middle of a room overcome by existential questions. Why am I here? What is my purpose? Didn’t I come here for something? What was it?    

I know a lot of people struggle with these questions and I have some thoughts on how to make peace with them. First, it’s important you be fully present in whatever activity you’re engaging in. Let’s say you’re working on a craft project and you need a pair of scissors that happen to be in the garage. Why you keep your scissors in the garage I have no idea, but I’m not here to judge.

It’s tempting to let your mind wander as you go get them. In order to stay focused on your mission, you might say or even sing a little song as you’re marching through the house. “Scissors. Scissors. I’m going to get scissors.” This works well—if it’s scissors you need.

 Your family may be alarmed as you pass by them singing about scissors but no more so than they would be to see you standing in the garage asking, “Why am I here?”

Another trick is to carry a reminder of your goal. Let’s say dinner is almost ready and it’s time to cut the roast. Unfortunately the cutting board is in the laundry room, though why you keep your cutting board in the laundry room, I can’t imagine.

You don’t want to get all the way to the laundry room, forget why you’re there, start doing laundry and miss dinner. So pick up something that will remind you of your intention. You could carry the roast with you, but your family might be concerned to see you carrying a roast to the laundry room. They’re already wondering why you keep the cutting board there and your scissors in the garage.

I suggest you choose something smaller, maybe the ketchup. When you get to the laundry room, the ketchup in your hand will remind you that you’re there to get the stain remover. No wait. That doesn’t sound right.

If you’ve forgotten to carry a reminder or sing as you walked through the house, there’s still hope. First stand in the middle of the room you find yourself in. If anyone else is there, tell them you came to say hello. Then take a few deep breaths, look around slowly and try to think logically. What do you keep in that room that you may have needed? I realize logic may not be your strong point if you’re the kind of person who keeps your scissors in the garage and your cutting board in the laundry room.

If that’s the case, find something else to do while you’re there. Straighten the magazines on the coffee table if you’re in the living room. Make yourself a snack if you’re in the kitchen. This will buy you time to ponder the true reason for your visit. It will also reassure your family that whatever other issues you may be experiencing at least your appetite is still good.  

If you’re lucky, your spouse will yell from the other room to remind you of your mission. “What’s taking you so long? I thought you were getting the fire extinguisher.”

If that doesn’t happen, be thankful that your house isn’t on fire. Then, as you enjoy your snack, think back. What room were you in before you found yourself standing in the kitchen telling your teenager you just came to say hi? Walk back to it. Just being there may bring to mind the important errand you were on when you left. If however you return to the original room, look around and think to yourself, why am I here, well, I just don’t know what to tell you.

Dorothy Rosby is the author of three books of humorous essays including Alexa’s a Spy and Other Things to Be Ticked off AboutHumorous Essays on the Hassles of Our Time. Contact her at