Tag Archive: Meaning of Life


My last post stayed with through much of Saturday. The question, “What am I about?” What on earth gives me meaning?

One writer who had an imprint upon me is Viktor Frankl. Man’s Search for Meaning was written in nine successive days. Having a keen sense of human behavior, wrote a most profound observation:

“We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts, comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

Frankl noted any man, under such circumstances, can decide what shall become of him – both mentally and spiritually. And truth be told, I am by nature, one of those ‘hut guys‘ – those who comfort and help.

Like most, I spent an awful lot of time searching for meaning. As a kid, I used to believe a variety of positions would provide meaning I longed. First, there was a police officer. A fireman was next, followed by a football player, baseball player, preceded by a preacher and humanitarian.

Nothing settled.

Instead, I melted into unimaginable. My life’s resume included Air Force Aerospace Rescue and Recovery to government trained sniper, college kid, investigator, auditor, consultant to governance. I married, then divorced. I married again, later experienced a beautiful true love (but not the physical affair). I managed to blow that and divorced again. Became homeless and lived out of a car. Through a friend, I regrouped and learned to relive. And now, at 58, I still can’t quite define what gives me meaning.

After posting yesterday morning, I called my mother. In the course of our conversation, she blurted:

Have you started your book yet?”

Ah.” I paused, as I always do when broaching the subject. “Not yet.”

Oh. You’re such a good writer.”

I realized at that moment, therein lay my meaning. I was meant to write. That’s what I do.

My blog is interconnected with my life, my career, and readers. I’ve written nearly 570 posts and have approximately 180 followers. I am proud of that. True, my blog does not generate an income. As such, I never considered myself a super blogger that posts on anything or everything. It’s just not my style. And honestly, I’ve never charged for access or asked for profit.

I started this blog to write, to share ideas. Like most writers, I experience periods of mental blocks. Other days, words flow freely, as if channeled by a spiritual force. Yet, I understand writing takes work, as each post can quickly absorb several hours.

So, how does writing fit with my position at ABC Inc.? I can only say that everything in my life is interconnected. Woven like tapestry skills from ancient artisans, my job provides the opportunity to interconnect – to see stories, pain, successes, and failures.

We are likely to find our unique meaning based upon our circumstances, our relationships and our experiences. The Buddha might say, “everything is interconnected.” As such, you, my friends and coworkers, are my canvass, for, without you, I would not have written a single word. And just as I, one is more likely to find meaning hidden in the relationships of others.

I’ve come to believe that life essentially tests us. Frankl noted we need to stop asking about the meaning of life each day and hour. Therefore, the meaning of life is not on some remote mountaintop or exalted from gurus living in a cave. Instead, it is revealed daily and hourly, in our choice to take the right action as we perform our duties and responsibilities. It is found in the ability to love others richly.

So, have I found my meaning? Yes. I am meant to write. And I do.

Good Tired

imageOne of the most important questions all belief systems seek to address is: What is the purpose of life? Almost all religions propose a way of life leading to salvation, liberation, satisfaction, or happiness. Buddhism is no exception.

As I pose these thoughts, allow me a few words of background. Many are unaware my ex-wife shows signs of early dementia. Thus, during the course of this disease, we’ve had many conversations surrounding the meaning of life and doing what we are called. As we dialogue and pick apart one’s personal journey and meaning, I am reminded of Harry Chapin’s comments from his grandfather.

“My grandfather was a painter. He died at age eighty-eight, he illustrated Robert Frost’s first two books of poetry, and he was looking at me and he said,

‘Harry, there’s two kinds of tired. There’s good tired and there’s bad tired.

Ironically enough, bad tired can be a day that you won. But you won other people’s battles, you lived other people’s days, other people’s agendas, other people’s dreams. And when it’s all over, there was very little you in there. And when you hit the hay at night, somehow you toss and turn; you don’t settle easy.

Good tired, ironically enough, can be a day that you lost, but you don’t even have to tell yourself because you knew you fought your battles, you chased your dreams, you lived your days and when you hit the hay at night, you settle easy, you sleep the sleep of the just and you say ‘take me away.

Harry, all my life I wanted to be a painter and I painted; God, I would have loved to have been more successful, but I painted and I painted and I’m good tired and they can take me away.’

Now, there is a process, in your and my lives, in the insecurity that we have about a prior-life or an afterlife, God- I hope there is a God. If He is- If He does exist, He’s got a rather weird sense of humor however. But let’s just- But if there’s a process that will allow us to live our days, that will allow us that will allow us that degree of equanimity towards the end looking at the black, implacable wall of death, to allow us that degree of peace, that degree of non-fear, I want in.”

Most people dislike facing the facts of life and prefer the false sense of security by sweat equity, dreaming and imagining. Thus, we accept shadow for substance and fail to realize life’s uncertainty.

Being deeply religious, my ex-wife understands life by facing and understanding death as nothing more than a temporary end to a temporary existence. Still, many misconstrue life’s ultimate meaning: reaching upwards to a higher level of being. Whether rich or poor, live in India or the United States, are Catholic or Atheist, it’s the power to transform negativity into positive; turning the ignoble, noble; the selfish, unselfish; the proud, humble; the haughty, forbearing; the greedy, benevolent; the cruel, kind; the subjective, objective.

Although many forms of religion had come into being in the course of history, only to pass away and be forgotten, each one in its time had contributed something towards the sum of human progress. We are not to counter personal growth. As a Buddhist, I’m called to embrace and transcend, not to conquer for material end, but rather to strive to attain harmony with nature or spiritual satisfaction. That’s being good tired.

May we all become ‘good tired.’

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