“What is the meaning of life?”
I write this while on a plane returning from a family trip to some of our nation’s most beautiful National Parks. While driving 2500 miles in a car with my family of five, I experienced many Griswoldian moments, not the least of which was the time my six-year-old son celebrated his “puwfect aim” while peeing in a cup in a bathroom emergency, only to then spill the cup on himself. Why is it that we can’t drive more than an hour without sickness, bickering or bathroom emergencies? And will we ever be able to take a family picture where all three kids are smiling? Despite the typical family fallibilities, we had a great time connecting with each other. That’s essential to happiness in human life: connection. We exist together on this planet and rely on each other, plants and animals, earth, sun and universe to survive. We are all so deeply connected to each other and inseparable from the whole, and the whole is beautiful, awe-inspiring and enlightening.
In our society, we can lose sight of our connection to others. We can fall into the trap of believing in the myth that we are “self-made”. Was it immaculate conception that brought us here? Were we magically educated at birth? No. Our parents are part of our story, as are our teachers, government, farmers, builders and every being in this intricate web of life. When considering this, you might feel smaller, as if you are losing a part of what makes you unique, but by identifying with the limitless expanse of our connections, I believe that we become larger, more than ourselves. Instead of just celebrating our own life, we get to celebrate the lives of all those we meet. We move beyond the limiting self to the limitless self. When we understand this, when we fully understand this, we realize the importance of helping others, and the reality that in doing so we are helping ourselves. To know this gives our lives purpose and meaning.
Feeling more connected and more alive doesn’t come easy. It takes practice. But with time we see beyond our “self-made” mind and open our hearts for love to flow in and out without restrictions. With this, we grow on our path and raise our consciousness to experience more beauty, more awe and joy out of living. We experience the truest nature of existence.
Why are we here if not to grow and experience life? I believe the meaning of life is to elevate our consciousness, to work towards enlightenment and help others be free from the shadows that hide the truth of reality. In moving beyond the “self-made”, we destroy the boundaries of who we think we are so we can experience who we truly are. We are not small beings in an infinite universe. We are the universe, we are alive and we are part of it all. There’s no beginning, no end and no limit. Life is a continuous cycle, not something we experience for a short time that just ends with death. Death is the beginning of life, life the beginning of death; we are part of a continuous cycle without end or beginning. There is an awakening to the experience of it all, but there is no end to it. To say there is an end is to say there never was. You can’t have something from nothing. So I believe the meaning of life is to awaken to the fullness and beauty of it all: the good, the bad, the Griswoldian. When we do, we become life in its fullest and most expansive form. In becoming, we see the vast connections that make us who we are and develop the compassion to help others as we help ourselves.
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