I’ve been thinking, and before I put pen to paper as it were, I had to think about what I thought about. HA! Try that one on for size.
It all started with a bra, that didn’t fit and never would, and came into realization with a text. Along the way, there was;
I found what had eluded me for untold decades, the landmarks necessary to draft clothing patterns, specifically brassieres, from a persons body measurements. An Intimate Apparel designer, discovered (HA, we knew that without a degree in engineering like he had) that bras are constructed wrong starting with measurements. Took his valid data to the manufactures, and was told it would cost too much to make the agreed upon, necessary changes. So he put it all out there, on the internet, for those with the skills to find. As a result, my daughter who has never been properly fitted, is in the process of going from a 30HHH to a 28F. For a woman who is 5′ on the button, and weighs 98lbs, that is a life changing experience. Regrettably, I am a carrier of the “Help! by boobs are too big for my body” gene. Personally, fried eggs.
A story on local TV that included an interview with a homeless woman my age, who considered herself lucky that business were allowing her to day shelter and eat, and she “tidied up”to “pay for it”. A motel night clerk, allowed her to sleep on the couch in their lobby. “I’m safe” was pronounced with a huge smile. Social Security is not enough money for her to have a place to call home…..
A grocery store District Manager who felt compelled to drive 45 miles to a customers home, to personally deliver; a giant gift basket, a very large bouquet of flowers, a gift card, and the most profound apology I have ever received in my life. He was about the same age as my youngest, 36, climbing the corporate ladder. The poor man was sweating bullets. All this; 3 phone calls to Customer Service, 1 phone call from a Store Manager, 2 emails that were the equivalent of being verbally spanked by your grandmother, because one checker recently elevated to “Asst. Mgr” decided, that on that specific day, she would try out being a smart ass by behaving in a; rude, patronizing and condescending manner, to a little old lady in a self checkout lane. The man stayed for an hour and we discussed much, and as he was leaving, he thanked me for all he had learned in that time. He also took my hand and told me that, he couldn’t understand my circumstances or my situation, but he could understand that he needed me to know that he was very sorry that this had happened to me.
I purchased 2 Powerball tickets, singles, then twice almost stepped on a dime that had been overlooked by the people in front of me. I let my daughter choose which dime, and which ticket. I held my breath that she would win something.
Son called home, he needed his dad’s advice on his stocks. Dad told him to hold on to it, he wanted to know if they were dividend stocks, yes reinvested, then take the long view. Hold on to them, they are company stock. Two days later the market dropped 391 points. At the level son is in the corporation, it would have looked very bad had he sold.
I texted my daughter and thanked her for helping me heal, by experiencing having a bra made to measure. It’s more complicated, but it’s all you need to know. I understood what life is really all about, and here we are.
So, what does this all have to do with the meaning of life you ask. Well, all these things have a common thread. There is a lot of fact not related here, because life is like that, it has fact tangible, and it has experience which in its essence is intangible. I can prove it.
Fact: The basis of life is; Wake up, eat, do stuff, eat, do stuff, eat, do stuff, sleep, repeat for potentially 10 decades. I challenge you to prove differently. This applies to the most simple life, amoeba its “stuff” is reproduction….whoopie…. to the most complex, humans. Everything that is self replicating, shares this cycle. This requires a biological form, so far.
Fact: Life is about what we do with the “do stuff part” also known as “experiences” that we have. We humans get to make a conscious decision about not only what we do, but whether or not we learn from them. Not only our own experiences, but those of others as well. Some experiences we choose, some come to us simply due to the fact that you don’t have control of anything beyond your own body. We all know that expression. That is not something you can hold in your hand, that is about something you hold in your brain. That is where you live, inside that wet, gray, electrical organ. Your senses, your body, those are tools to gain those experiences, you are your mind. Your experiences are filed away in there and as you age, you visit more often that gigantic row of files. No one but you can “see” in there.
So the meaning of life is this, a two sided coin at the apex of a toss. We get to choose a lot. Maybe not whether or not we are rich, or healthy, handsome, or thin, but perhaps the things that are more meaningful in the short term as well as the long run. Take the couple in their ’50s who just won 1/3 of $1.586 billion. They chose the Annuity option, because “That is more than enough. We don’t need any more”. They took a realistic view. Take the community that chooses to provide for an elder in such a way as to allow her to maintain a sense of dignity. They could just as easily have turned a blind eye. Local news covers the couple who pulled a man from a burning car. This little tiny woman, grabbed the trapped man by the shoulders of his jacket and literally pulled him through a broken window to safety. Where was her 6’2″ husband? He drug himself out of his car and across the road on crutches (they were not involved in the accident) so he could give her directions on HOW to save him. The man had been in a severe accident that crushed all but 1 bone, in both his legs. He told the reporter “Strangers saved my life, they changed my priorities. I could not have lived with myself, if I had not done all I could.” We can sit by and do nothing -or- we can realize this, one day “it” will happen to each and every human on this planet. The situations and circumstances will be different for all of us, for all humans process their experiences uniquely to the individual. “It” stops you in your tracks, even if it is only your intangible self. “It” changes your life, and there is no way to know beforehand how. Now here comes the part where we deviate experiences according to ranking. Higher life forms think. There, I said it, there’s no going back from this point.
So, now we can condense things a bit. Life forms. Trust me this is going somewhere.
Science shows us that there are lower and higher forms of life. Lower forms can only react to their environment. Amoebas, viruses, simple yet approach complexity at times. Higher forms also react to their environment, plants for instance, but at the predator/prey level, situational awareness comes into play. Again things get interesting. There are a lot of species on this planet that rise closer to our intelligence. Funny thing is, a lot of those are on the “prey” side of things. We know that animals experience a lot of the same emotions as humans. What separates our species from all others at this level, is instinct. We have the ability to overcome our instincts and emotions to succeed with our brains. Not always a good thing that brain. Take a look at cities, great example. They are centers of culture; museums, theaters, universities, medical centers, diversity in race and belief. The other side? They are centers of; disease, poverty, hunger, violence, illiteracy, injustice, hopelessness. Both on a grand scale. Yeah, from that perspective we humans are pretty nifty. After all every experimental lab knows, put too many rats in one cage and they will start to kill each other. We would never do that, we are evolved. Yeah, right.
So, we arrived here, at this place in time to a unique environment to have experiences in, by first being predators. To achieve all the technology available AND currently in use, did we make the conscious choice to give away that which has allowed us to arrive at this place in time? Or did we simply go too far too fast, and allow the best of who we are as a species to be forgotten, or worse yet, abandoned.
The very fact that the question of meaning exists, is very telling. Survival. Can’t be doing that kind of brain function if you and yours aren’t going to live to see the next sunrise if you don’t kill something. So as a species we feel cozy.
For over 125,000 years, for humans their meaning of life was, shelter, fire, food, safety, sex, and not necessarily in that specific order. They could make choices, and if they were incapable of possessing logic and reason, we definitely would not be in this specific fashion. Were they happy? Sure, and sad, angry, confused, etc. Then in the span of say a paltry 10,000 years we decided to add money and goodness knows what all else as a “necessity” in order to have a “good quality” of life. So we struggle for the last 120 years to find meaning in life, when all this “stuff” came along. Just for the sake of illustration take the light bulb, and run with it, and lets take a look at one life that encompassed that achievement. My grandmother Joyce was courted in a horse and buggy, she was all dolled up like a Gibson Girl. I know, I have the tin type. She married only because she was tired of being an old maid. I have the postage stamp quilt she made between the birth of her 1st and 2nd sons, 1913 – 1915. It was cut and pieced by the light of a coal oil lamp, after the days chores were done. She stood in the fields as the earth passed through Halley’s Comets tail, automobiles, aircraft, men on the moon. She passed after 98 years of experiences. She told me that all the wonders she had seen, gave her the strength to bear the pain that came her way. “I made something good out of all of it”. To her, that was the meaning of life.
So taking all the evidence into consideration, transforming knowledge into wisdom, and wrap it in 6+ decades of living, if you haven’t connected the dots yet, here is the meaning of life:
Life has the meaning you give it. You get to choose how you live it, behind your eyes. In the end, it’s all you have.