I believe we find our meaning in the way our lives unfold. There’s a unique personal journey in that, and it is about discovering who we are when we finally unfold the last crease in our being. I call that unfolded state “wholeness.”
We touch that wholeness with each peak experience in our lives, our best moments — perhaps the birth of a child, a marriage, the accomplishment of some major life goal or the achievement of a new sense of freedom. But I also like the “little peaks” that show up as everyday reminders, maybe just a child skipping down the street, unconsciously expressing the joy of being alive.
Some of those peak moments seem to have galvanized my life more than others. Once in a dream — a nightmare, really — I came upon a glittering necklace and when I put it on I felt the deepest form of radiance and completion, a sense of a living birthright. At another point in my life, in real time, I turned to a room where I had been doing some work with others on their growth and destinies and it seemed suddenly the room was filled to the brim with flowers, their scent enveloping me in mystery. In another moment, I “received” a message from the universe about the catalytic power of beauty, silence, and timelessness that simply left me breathless. And in another, at a particularly difficult time, a painting by Monet reminded me that the universe might well be on my side. Each of these moments pointed toward wholeness in ways that were both part of me and beyond me. Each of them made me smile in recognition.
Personally, I find that art — dance, poetry, music, painting, photography, sculpture — the creative process, often speaks directly to that fundamental question of meaning. When things seem too absurd, too pointless or negative, I return especially to poems because they help remind me who I am.
I live my life in growing orbits
which move out over the things of the world.
Perhaps I can never achieve the last,
but that will be my attempt.
I am circling around God, around the ancient tower,
and I have been circling for a thousand years,
and I still don’t know if I am a falcon, or a storm
or a great song.
— Rainer Maria Rilke, trans. by Robert Bly
~Dan Oestreich, leadership and culture change consultant, author, and facilitator.
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