Excellence 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:
- to whom much is given, much is required
- as one door closes, another one opens
- everything matters!
- 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.
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