I was driving around town, running errands, listening to an Audible version of a book, Holding Nothing Back, when the author mentioned something which struck me. He commented our life has meaning when we can show compassion and love to others.
This statement was one of those serendipity moments because, for months, I have been asking myself this very question “does my life have meaning?”
Does My Life Have Meaning?
On an intellectual level, I know my life does indeed hold meaning. Deep in my gut, lately, I haven’t been so sure this is the case.
I know this may sound melodramatic. I don’t mean it to be. I am being completely sincere, vulnerable even. There are various reasons as to why I’m pondering such a weighty question.
First, I think my reflective state started five years ago when my best friend – and support system – moved away. We were also neighbors and were very involved in each other’s lives. We had one another nearby for seven years. Her departure left a gaping hole in my life. I felt alone.
In truth, I wasn’t alone. I had my husband, my soul mate, the love of my life as well as our children. As fabulous as my hubby and our kids are, they aren’t the same thing as having a girlfriend. My husband does not think like a woman nor does he talk like one. My friendship with him is different my friendship with Alisha.
Second, in 2013, my oldest married. Even though my son did not move far away, he is not the best at keeping in touch. I felt his absence in our home.
In 2015, my father died unexpectedly. I never foresaw being parentless in my 40s.
While I was grateful for being by his side as he died since he still lived in France, I was also grieving his sudden passing.
A few short months later, my third son moved to Colorado. As it turned out, he was no better at keeping in touch than his eldest sibling.
In the mist of this perfect emotional storm, I started to wonder if my life had any meaning at all.
Life and Death
My father was now gone – as was my mother- as well as other family members I loved. My youngest children wouldn’t remember either one of my parents. It soon appeared I was the only link between my parents and my twins. The only one who could tell my children stories about their departed grandparents.
That’s a strange feeling.
I am keenly aware of the fragility of life, its brevity, and the indisputable fact we are just passing through to one day be forgotten.
At this point in my life, I already felt forgotten as my sons’ had so easily forged ahead in their new endeavors with what seemed little care for the family members they left behind, especially me. So thespian of me, bordering on the dramatic, and nonetheless raw, honest and somewhat painful.
On my end, I missed their presence and most of all, our loving relationship. I was glad – as well as grateful – I had raised strong, capable, and independent adults. Likewise, I was equally melancholic they had grown and moved on all too fast.
Don’t get me wrong, we got along great, and we still do. It was hearing from my sons and being part of their new life I was keenly missing. I felt forgotten and unimportant. Likewise, I wondered if my existence had any meaning.
I know it sounds theatrical. Nevertheless, I felt that if I were gone, it wouldn’t matter. In my mind, the glaring proof of my feelings was my sons. How could they have been genuinely affected by my presence if they were not affected by my absence?
Do We Make a Difference?
As human beings, I believe we all want to know our life has meaning. We are all cognizant the earth won’t stop rotating if we disappear tomorrow. At the same time, we all want to sense our existence makes a difference. Don’t we?
Is that entirely too egocentric?
Finding My Way
In the course of listening to an Audible book, I had an aha moment which changed the way I viewed my pity party.
I have been looking at others to give my life meaning which is an ineffective way to live. I am the one who must find what makes my life meaningful, regardless of how others choose to behave.
Here is the analogy which came to me. The meaning of my life is like pearls tucked away in oysters laying on the ocean floor. I need to dive over and over until I find and gather them.
The pearls are – in truth – inside of me. The ocean is my soul. I am also the pearl diver. I need to plunge repeatedly into the depth of my being to find my pearls aka my answers. They are there waiting for me to discover and gather them.
All I can do is give my best and know in the depth of my soul it is enough. I cannot strive for perfection – although I too often try – which is impossible to reach. I must be content with my best at this very moment as I must be grateful for the journey which unfolds.
Furthermore, I must walk in authenticity and vulnerability for myself alone.
While others share my journey, I must complete it from beginning to end. I started alone and will finish alone. Everyone else is a precious gift, but a gift nonetheless.
I choose to live an authentic life, to show kindness and love as I am able. First, to myself, then to others.
If I live this way, in the present, to the best of my ability, I will fulfill my life’s journey.
I cannot hold regrets for the past, which will not change no matter how much I anguish over it or wish for it to be different. Neither should I worry about a future none of us are guaranteed.
There is so much truth to the precept “live today as if you were going to die tomorrow.” This truism became all too real for my husband and me when our daughter died. This event changed our lives in so many ways. So many of us, know this very painful lesson all too well.
My Life Has Meaning
Someday, I will return to the earth from which I came. I will be no more in bodily form, yet I do not believe this is THE end, despite the fact what lies beyond this life is unclear to us.
What matters right now, is my choice to live my life to the fullest, and to do it gratefully.
I can love those who cross my path for a short time, those I call friends, even the strangers who remain nameless, as well as those with whom I was meant to share a large part of my existence, namely, my birth family, my husband and the family he and I have created.
I have encountered many beautiful souls on this journey for which I am humbly beholden. My ambition is to be the blessing in someone else’s life and as strange as it may seem, in my own life as well. If I cannot be kind to myself – in the midst of my human frailty – how may I honestly be loving to anyone else?
So, yes, indeed, my life has meaning as so does yours.