Ysaÿe M. Barnwell: The Meaning of Life and The 4 Aphorisms

YMB3Excellence Reporter: Dr. Barnwell, what is the meaning of life?

Ysaÿe M. Barnwell: At some point, each human being will probably try to figure out the meaning of life.

Perhaps meaning can be inferred from purpose. I really feel the purpose of life, with all of its complexities, is the opportunity we are each given “to figure it out”:

  • to figure out who or what is in control of our individual lives;
  • if we are not in control of our individual lives, shoud we try to establish a relationship with who or what is in control of life, or of our lives;
  • to determine what is shaping who we are;
  • to determine the kind of person we are, and the rules and circumstances that allow or force us as individuals to be who we are;
  • to determine what is of value and why;
  • to make a positive contribution to the annals of the history of humankind;
  • to know love in all forms: hopefully, given and received.

I have 4 aphorisms that have guided my adult life:

  1. to whom much is given, much is required
  2. as one door closes, another one opens
  3. everything matters!
  4. say ‘yes’!

~Ysaÿe M. Barnwell Ph.D. MSPH, is a commissioned composer, arranger, author, actress and former member of the African American female a cappella ensemble Sweet Honey In The Rock. She is a vocalist with a range of over three octaves and appears on more than twenty-five recordings with Sweet Honey as well as other artists. Trained as a violinist for 15 years beginning at the age of 2 1/2, she holds degrees in speech pathology (BS, MSEd), cranio-facial studies (Ph.D.) and public health (MSPH). She was a professor at Howard University College of Dentistry for over a decade, and over the following 8 years developed training programs in Child Protection at Children’s Hospital National Medical Center, and administered community-based health programs at Gallaudet University, all in Washington DC.

Copyright © 2016 Excellence Reporter

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