Thursday, April 8, 2010

A Stab at an Age-Old Question

What is the meaning of life? The question may be daunting or broad, and is one that many attempt to answer. "Life," as defined by Webster's dictionary as "the quality that distinguishes a vital and functional being from a dead body." But as for the meaning? I doubt many people would think of that primarily as the length of time between birth and death. I think the answer may be seen as complicated or simple, or a combination of both.

Life holds so many different surprises for each individual person. I think one thing we all strive for spiritually, whether actively or intuitively, is happiness. Happiness means different things for different people. For almost all of us, love is a big part of what makes us happy. The Beatles even argue that "All You Need is Love." But love in itself is complicated--there is expressed, unrequited, filial, marital... even love of mankind. Happiness also is affected to some degree by success. If one is doing well in his career or has
accomplished something for which he is proud of, then he sees the happier, sunnier days of life.

Often I find myself looking at a beautiful view (i.e. a clear blue sky, a city night-line), seeing an invigorating movie that makes me think, or volunteering at a local middle school--and it'll suddenly occur to me that, "Wow. I am really lucky to be here. I love life, and I can't imagine why people can be so cynical or commit suicide when there's so much good in the world and there's so much to live for!" (And when I say good, I mean in terms of good people, circumstances, nature, etc.) It's fantastic to be alive! Sometimes when walking down Locust Walk and I see the sunlight peeping through the trees, I take a deep breath of air and smell my own happiness. (The air smells especially fresh and cheerful in the morning after a late night rain shower.)

I guess it helps that I'm an optimist by nature. Whenever anything bad happens, I inadvertently turn it into something positive, or something I can learn from. For example, I had finished an econ extra credit assignment, but had neglected to bring it with me to class the day it was due. Of course, the professor would not accept late work. But I immediately thought to myself, "You know what? This just means you have to work harder on your other assignments and make sure nothing goes wrong there, so that you end up not needing the extra credit anyway." I took the situation as a sign that I needed to focus more on my econ homework and study harder for the class in general.

Love and optimism make me happy to be alive. Whether or not that's the magic formula for you is of course going to be subjective to your experiences and its influence on your point of view. So what would YOU say is the meaning of life?

[Written: 11/7/05]

No comments:

Post a Comment