Excellence Reporter: Dr. Walker, what it the meaning of life?
Lesa R. Walker: With all humility, I believe that we, as human beings, are not able to answer the question of the meaning of life. We cannot even fathom the universe. We experience fleeting moments in the vast expanse of time. We must be honest enough to know that we do not know. That being said, many of us share a yearning to tap into a deep resonance, a profound utterance that is limitless and that translates the mystery and miracle of life in a language we can understand. Perhaps each living being and our interconnections exist as words in this utterance. “Meaning” is revealed through our living journey. The journey is one of contrasts of light and shadow. How much light do we cast? How much shadow? With each of our daily actions and choices, we create the message, the “meaning” that is generated from our small punctuation point in the universe. So, despite our significant limitations in understanding, we each have great power to impact the trajectory of our own lives, the lives of others, and the life of the planet.
Perhaps the most important question we must ask ourselves is: “What meaning of life shall we create?” We can practice and strengthen peace and compassion and create a world in which life thrives or practice and strengthen violence and hatred in which life is destroyed. We define our essence and our meaning through how we care for others, ourselves, and the Earth. Our day to day actions and practice matter.
The gift of life is the boundless opportunity to chart the path, to choose our initiative, to choose how we respond and what we practice. Our choices are ultimately our own. Our choices are our freedom and our responsibility.
If we want to sustain life on Earth and promote well-being, we choose compassion. In my life journey I try my best to support the life-sustaining choices of peace and compassion. This is the meaning I want to experience and share with others. However, the path of compassion is not easy. It takes daily mindfulness and practice to strengthen compassion skills that are essential to support these life-sustaining choices. My hope is that we all engage and support each other to move forward in ever-expanding circles and journeys of compassion. What greater meaning can we give to our lives?
Two quotes say it well:
“The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others.” – Albert Schweitzer
“We have a choice to use the gift of our lives to make a difference. It’s up to us what kind of difference we’re going to make.” – Jane Goodall
Lesa R. Walker, MD, MPH, has 30+ years of experience as a public health physician, ensuring quality of care for children and youth with disabilities and their families. She contends that compassion is the greatest force for social good and the more we practice and strengthen our compassion skills, the more likely we are to unite, engage, and address our personal and community needs. She currently works at both local and international levels to engage people in the active practice of “3D” compassion (caring for others, self, and the Earth). She is an Education Program Associate of the Charter for Compassion International; a member of the Leadership Team of the Compassion Games International, and Founder of the Compassionate Austin Movement.
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