Nowhere by Nadeem Chughtai

What’s the secret to fulfilment?

Defining a life purpose

Paul Abela, MSc
4 min readOct 6, 2019

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It can be easy to get lost in the what-ifs in life. What would have happened if we were still together? Where would I be if I had chosen that job over my current one? Decisions can’t be unmade, so there’s no point wallowing in the past. You are where you are in life based on the choices you’ve made. But these choices don’t define your future. Establishing a purpose will provide direction to your choices. This is powerful and alludes to why a life purpose is so important to achieving fulfilment.

Nadeem Chughtai’s painting Nowhere helps illustrate this. What do you see when you look at the painting?

I see the journey of life evoked through a simple, yet powerful metaphor.

The man is in the present, looking forwards. But he’s lost in the past. His shadow represents his inability to come to terms with the past. So much so, he isn’t able to appreciate the present. The bags reinforce this. The man is weighed down by baggage he carries with him. Only when he lets go of these bags, let’s go of the past, can he start to appreciate the present.

The white space the man looks towards is the future. It’s empty and unknown. Directionless and weighed down by the past, he fears the future. The man is living but going nowhere.

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Paul Abela, MSc

Writer and systems thinker | Place a lens on the social, economic and political causes of the climate crisis | Visit my website and blog at transformatise.com