Raison d'être is a phrase borrowed from French where it means simply "reason for being"; in English use, it also comes to suggest a degree of rationalization, as "The claimed reason for the existence of something or someone".
From Wiktionary, the free dictionary:
The claimed reason for the existence of something or someone; the purpose of something or someone.
Surfing became his raison d’être.
Everyone has one, or they wouldn't be alive on this planet right now. I'm not talking about some cosmic reason, I'm talking about a personal, realized reason. It's what keeps us going. It's the source of our happiness. It's what makes us tick. It's the most precious thing we have, really. It's something we want to share, yet it's something that if known (and taken away) can be devastating to life.
A kind, understanding and loving person will help you fulfill your raison d'être. Someone without those qualities will want to expose it in order to eliminate it.
My own raison d'être has changed many times. It's had to. I've either set my sights so low that I was able to fulfill it too quickly, or they were set so impossibly high that I couldn't figure out how to get there from here and gave up. It's a frightening thing to be without one, let me tell ya (although I probably don't need to tell ya).
It ties, pretty heavily, into another French phrase: Joie de vivre:
Joie de vivre (from the French joie, "joy"; de, "of"; vivre, "to live, living"; "the joy of living") is a term sometimes imported into English to express a cheerful enjoyment of life; an exultation of spirit. Joie de vivre, as one scholar has written,Is it really all perception? How many times can one change their perception of life in order to keep going? I understand, now, why people have families and careers and such. It is their raison d'être and gives them joie de vivre. So where is mine? Where has it gone? I miss it.
"can be a joy of conversation, joy of eating, joy of anything one might do… And joie de vivre may be seen as a joy of everything, a comprehensive joy, a philosophy of life, a Weltanschauung. Robert's Dictionnaire says joie is sentiment exaltant ressenti par toute la conscience, that is, involves one's whole being."
In English common usage, the phrase is sometimes corrupted to joie de vie. This would translate to "joy of life" or "zest for life," rather than the more affirmative "joy of living." Joie de vive is another common spelling error.
Part of the problem is when one makes another person their reason to be. My mother warned me of this. I have fought dilliegenty to keep this from happening. However her suggestion seemed inadequte at the time. Her suggestion was to have God be my raison d'être. That's not an easy task for a being trapped in a physical realm. I have no physical, sensual experience of God. I can't see, hear, smell, touch or even taste God. I've been in situations where I've felt the "God experience" but based on the definition, I can't say that it's been real since it hasn't lasted.
If God is Love, and Love never fails, then God would never fail and never depart. I've experienced many things, in every tactile sense I mentioned before, that has brought me to that "God experience." But every time it fades I'm reminded that it's simply the dopamine/serotonin rush that I'm feeling and not really God. Why wasn't it God? It didn't last, that's why.
I'm fighting depression. Depression brought on by loss. How does one live without a raison d'être after having one for so long? How does one simply change their raison d'être again... especially after they've already had to change it over and over and over again? The first question is more to the point, really. Living without one. That's a toughie. Without that... why get out of bed? Why go to work? Why bother eating, dressing, cleaning the house, making the beds, doing the chores of what's necessary in life? I understand now how addictions are formed... they fulfill someone's need for a raison d'être ... often without a true joie de vivre.
Even now, I can feel my spirits lifting just discussing this. It seems that the very quest, the very nature of my search is often part and parcel to my raison d'être yet brings me little joy. Just enough to get me through this post, probably. Are we all just dopamine junkies?
I posted this picture on Sadao's Myspace account a few days ago:
It REALLY made me laugh! I posted it with "Who do these two cats remind you of?" See, the top one reminds me of me... while the bottom one reminds me of him. I envy that simple, child-like view he has, the ability to amuse himself (and others) in any situation. I only envy it, of course, because I used to possess that ability myself. It was when my raison d'être WAS the joie de vivre. Is there a way to get back there without going back in time? Is there a way to push through this depression without falling back upon mythology that doesn't manifest itself in the physical world? If there is, I must find it ... or I fear my raison d'être will completely cease to exist. I know what this means, ironically. It means losing "everything" again... in order to find eternity. Death to old ways, Birth to new ones.
This post may have left you feeling bad for me. Don't let that happen! This is just my mental toilet time, I guess. I hope that someday I can be someone that others will look up to for inspiration, knowledge and wisdom. Having just said that, I know that experience must occur first. So, I best get started experiencing things.