The Meaning of Life

If anyone ever asks you,

“What is the meaning of life?”

Ask them, “What is the meaning of your question?”

If they say, “What do you mean?”

Answer: “Are you asking ‘What is the meaning of life?’

like you might ask, ‘What is the meaning of a rock?’

If they say, “Yes!”

Ask them, “Are we talking about the meaning of a particular rock,

or a rock in general?”

If they say, “Rocks in general,”

say, “Things don’t mean anything in general.

They only have specific, concrete, here and now, in this very moment meaning.”

If they say, “I don’t understand.”

Reply, “A large number of vastly different items fall into the general category of Rocks.

A gold nugget could be thought of as a rock by someone who didn’t know what gold is,

and the same thing could be said about a diamond.

Gold and diamonds mean something quite different from granite, gravel and field stones.

And even if we limited our discussions to wave-tossed pebbles of granite,

worn smooth and sized almost identically by being ground down

through water action over time,

still one of those rocks would mean one thing to a boy with a slingshot,

and another thing to the bird, or the bull, he had his eye on

when he picked up the rock.

What something means is always what it means to someone—

and what it means to them is specific to the time and place,

moment and mood of the person in question.

For example, the question, ‘What is this thing called “Love”?’

means one thing to a college sophomore the second week in April,

having just been smitten by the encounter with his roommate’s sister

on the parade ground beneath balmy skies on their way to lunch.

He folds his hands over his chest, lifts his eyes to the heavens,

and proclaims in a wonder-struck way, ‘What is this thing called love?’

A thrice jilted lover, just told by another, ‘There is someone else,’

might look aghast, and wonder from his depths, ‘What IS this thing called love?’

A philosophical cynic, having been wounded at too many times,

asks of every expression of love, ‘WHAT? Is THIS THING called Love?’

And a new bride fresh home from the honeymoon,

asks of her husband’s first effort at grilling steaks, ‘And what is this thing called, Love?’

Putting this all together, we can say ‘The meaning of life’

is that life is a matrix

in which each living thing works out for itself the meaning of its own existence—

what it means for it to be alive—

by living in light of,

living toward,

living to express and serve—

by living in ways that have meaning—

are meaningful—for each living thing.

The meaning of your life is what your life means to you—

is what is meaningful in your life for you.

What is meaningful is your ground,

your bedrock,

your center.

It is YOU.

Find that center point,

and live to express it,

exhibit it,

and serve it in what you do,

in how you live.

Do what it takes to pay the bills,

but know that you are paying the bills

in order to do what is meaningful to you in the life you are living.

That’s the meaning of your life.”

Published by jimwdollar

I'm retired, and still finding my way--but now, I don't have to pretend that I know what I'm doing. I retired after 40.5 years as a minister in the Presbyterian Church USA, serving churches in Louisiana, Mississippi and North Carolina. I graduated from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, in Austin, Texas, and Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana. My wife, Judy, and I have three daughters and five granddaughters within about twenty minutes from where we live--and are enjoying our retirement as much as we have ever enjoyed anything.

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