“What is the meaning of life?” is a philosophical question that has been debated probably since time began. No one really has the answer because, let’s face it, as humans we all have a different concept of what the meaning of life is and different criteria we would bring to that definition. This article is not intended to be an academic article and will just concentrate on my feelings about the meaning of life as I see it.
Some people say that the meaning of life is to make our own meaning and I agree with that. Plato felt the meaning of life was knowledge, but as others criticized even Aristotle himself corrected his mentor by saying, “Who is to say we have the right knowledge?” I agree with that too. You certainly can’t go by science, knowledge is always changing as we learn more and more about our world, the universe, and all there is.
At one time in my younger days I tried to answer the question what is the meaning of life by reading about the understanding from the great minds of our times. I found such views as knowledge, virtues, the pursuit of simple pleasures, great wealth and fame, living in harmony with nature, doing good unto others, relationship with God, enlightenment through mysticism and other means, there is no meaning in life, life is transient and meaningless (Buddhism) and everything in between.
It was then that I gave up. Nobody really has the answer and your answer is just as good as mine. The meaning of life as a question is better put forth as what is the meaning of your life, in my opinion, and of course in the opinion of many others before me.
So what meaning do I bring to life? I think that we are put here on this earth to help the world in any way we can. The great scientists have invented things to make our lives easier and they have found cures from human disease and suffering. The doctors and medical staff have treated our illnesses. The teachers have taught us not only book learning, but valuable lessons to take with us in life. The priests and holy men and women have taught us about our God and helped us form a relationship with God. If I continued this list it would never end. So many people through their interaction with us have shaped our personal lives and have made us better people for it.
Personally I have made my contribution to life as well. I seek not only the pleasures in life for myself, family, and friends. I feel my reason to be on this earth is to help others. In life I have been a teacher, a counselor, a healer, a therapist, lover, wife, mother, good friend. I continue to help people in any way that I can. I am a writer and my words have helped so many people I know and don’t know. Over the years I have received many emails of how I touched a life through the words that I wrote.
I and many others like me have touched the lives of people without consciously knowing we have done this as illustrated in the following example from my life:
Once, I was a member of a chat forum; we were a group of internet friends who got together every night to have good conversation and fun. Unbeknownst to any of us, one of the members of the chat group was very depressed and had contemplated suicide. One night I said something on the chatline on the very night he planned on committing suicide. Whatever, it was that I said, (I don’t even remember what it was at this point), made him think and take stock of his life. It was through that introspection of his life that he thanked me from stopping him from committing suicide. He did not tell me this until months later so I never knew what an impact I had on his life on that night in question.
Serendipity is the happening of something good or beneficial in some way that happened by chance. Sometimes when I send out my newsletter Storytime Tapestry someone will write me to say that what I wrote or what one of my writers wrote helped them in a profound way. It never ceases to fill my heart with joy when these serendipitous occasions happen.
I invite everyone to search for the meaning of life in general or their life in particular. Remember all your words and actions may influence people you may not even know. Don’t feed your mind with negative self-talk. Don’t think such things as; I am only a … or …, (I do not feel in these thoughts because I feel everyone is important, waitress, president, beggar and so on).
We are all important in this life. You may be great scientist, or a cook at your local diner. The wonderful thing is you will affect people’s lives and if this is as important to you as it is to me, this my friend is the meaning of life.
Source: personal opinion, experience and knowledge gained from my life throughout the years.