October 04, 2006

Reflections on the Meaning of Life

Great minds throughout the ages, scientists, philosophers, and theologians have all struggled to answer the question "What is the meaning of life?" It seems an impossible task to find an answer to a term such as "meaning" which is in this case is itself ambiguous. Some philosophers contend that the questioned can?t be answered at all believing that life itself has no meaning, rather it is what is in a persons life, the events or possessions, that have a meaning only to that person. So in a sense this search for a meaning is a question of measuring a fullness of a life.
At some point in everyone's life there is a questioning of purpose. I went through this process several years ago. I stopped and asked myself where I have been and where did I want to be. Fortunately this didn?t lead to a crisis that drives some to a new Corvette and a twenty-year old girl friend.
I discovered that my life was defined by where I lived and the things I did. A life of seeking love, or freedom or adventure, sure that each would bring the happiness or pleasure that I sought. Some would say it would appear to be the life of a person that is wild and free, but as I could attest it is a selfish life. Robert Service reflected on this type of individual in his poem "The Men That Don't Fit In". In part it reads:

There's a race of men that don't fit in,A race that can't stay still;So they break the hearts of kith and kin,And they roam the world at will.They range the field and they rove the flood,And they climb the mountain's crest;Theirs is the curse of the gypsy blood,And they don't know how to rest.If they just went straight they might go far;They are strong and brave and true;But they're always tired of the things that are,And they want the strange and new.They say: "Could I find my proper groove,What a deep mark I would make!"So they chop and change, and each fresh move Is only a fresh mistake.

During this time of self-evaluation, one of the best bits of advice I ever heard was that if you want success in business or in life, you should start at the end. Your end! Picture who would be at your funeral. For a person that is focused only on self the picture would surely be a lonely end. If on the other hand you can picture a room filled to capacity, and if you use friends and family as the gauge of your success, then at the end you could say, it truly was a wonderful life.

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