Excellence Reporter: Jenna, what is the meaning of life?
Jenna McCarthy: The greatest minds of all time, from Albert Camus to Snoopy, have pondered this question, so it’s almost absurd to think I might have anything meaningful to add. But since you asked, I’ll tell you: it’s coffee. Wait, make that wine. Oooh, I know! It’s stuff! Lots and lots of sparkly, expensive stuff!
Fine, I’m kidding. That’s what you get when you ask a humorist such a pointed and profound question.
All joking aside, the elusive raison d’etre has been contemplated more often than the navel—and go ahead and google omphaloskepsis if you don’t believe that’s an actual pastime—with resulting theories running the gamut from vague and quixotic concepts like “happiness” (so narcissistic! What if it makes me happy to kick you in the knees?) to “discovering your gift and then giving it away” (and suppose my gift is making sardine and lima bean pie? You’re welcome). Other popular beliefs include service to God and others (noble), leaving the planet better than you found it (courteous), and dancing in the rain instead of waiting for the storm to pass (poetic).
All of these might give purpose to our time here, but none—to me—explain why we’re here in the first place. I’m not saying I have the answer, but I like to think that each of us has an immortal soul. Our bodies are just vehicles (yes, some are sports cars and some are a soccer mom’s minivan) that chauffer these souls along as they master fundamental earthly lessons: humility, gratitude, courage, tolerance, forgiveness. In case you didn’t realize it, every day our souls are tested in immeasurable challenging ways. Did we learn from yesterday’s trial—or will we respond in the same ineffective way? Can we find beauty in the mundane or will we keep rushing from one leisurely activity to another, always seeking a bigger, better stimulus? Are we able to laugh at our mistakes and see the lessons within them, or will we take our frustration and disappointment out on those around us?
There are countless different theories on what happens after life; the mother of all destinations. But obviously we won’t know where we’re going until we get there. That’s why at the end of the day, it—the meaning of life, if you will—has to be about the journey.
That’s my story and I’m sticking with it.
~Jenna McCarthy is an internationally published writer, speaker, former radio personality and the author of more than a dozen humorous books for adults and children. Her TED talk, What You Don’t Know about Marriage, has been viewed by millions around the world. Jenna’s writing has appeared in more than sixty magazines, on dozens of web sites and in several anthologies including the popular Chicken Soup series. You can read about the time she was escorted out of her office by a cop and see her in the bathtub at www.JennaMcCarthy.com.
Copyright 2016 Excellence Reporter