Excellence Reporter: Megan, what is the meaning of life?
Megan Hollingsworth: The question itself implies a mind that seeks and even requires meaning. And one who has lost a sense of meaning for it’s own life. For each is a meaning and, thus, life’s meaning in total.
The absence of meaning encourages one to question meaning. Like the absence of happiness encourages one to ask, “What is happiness?” And when one asks honestly inward, the answer not found externally, is generally clear.
So, it’s helpful to begin with questioning meaning as often as necessary. Such is the uncertainty of life moment to moment and continuous. What brought meaning then is different than now because then happened. And meaning is in the happening. Meaning is momentary and of lived experience.
So, there is a beginning. Meaning may be found in losing all together a sense of one’s own meaning.
My lasting honest answer is, I don’t know what the meaning of life is. I see the flower. And ask, What do you make of life? What does common toad make of life? Rose? Fire ant? Big tree?
I have thought though that there is meaning in pain and pleasure. And in relationship, as I experience dynamics of an embodiment shaped by a thousand meanings determined through my actions and the actions of others.
And I have experienced a sense of fullness, like illumination, when losing sense of my own life’s meaning I realized meaning through a fly’s presence and an author’s impulse.
One morning summer 2016 after I’d finished eating oatmeal, a fly landed on the spoon and proceeded to clean up after me. The day before, I’d read about maggots and how flies enable the scent of roses in Joanne Elizabeth Lauck’s The Voice of the Infinite In the Small: Re-imagining the Insect-Human Connection.
Joanne’s writing, which includes folk tale, provided an understanding between me and this fly. And I wept. I wept because this fly thought enough of me to share the spoon. And I, having shamed myself into isolation, a very real non-existence, had hardly ever appreciated someone’s company so much.
That encounter brought a poem titled DESTINY. Since that moment, I do not shoo flies. Though I would kill a biting fly as I do biting ants. While paying attention. If I choose, I can imagine meaning in the bite. As to ask, Why do you bite me? And then listen for an answer.
So, I guess for now my thought is that meaning in life can be found in another’s existence by losing meaning for one’s own life through isolation.
Meaning that is to feed someone else is to feed oneself. And this is ultimately the case when two are not one and not two. In other words, to realize the Mother’s love and be a reflection of this. A reflection that includes boundaries simply that the meaning of life may continue to be explored together.
And the life was dwelling
Nowhere and everywhere
And the feeling was being
Alone and crowded
And the motion was moving
Fast to be stopped
Short of a destination
Beginning again slowly
To get somewhere
Other than here
Until arriving there,
The still point of which everything arises
And for which everything gives way
Where one weeps because
has thought to join
What is learned in school
Are but names, isolated facts and figures
That only books recall
What is retained of that learning
Is but how to dispense ketchup from a bottle
And a sense that more is missing
Until the breath is lost,
So that what it means to breathe is found.
Then realized in a mind is the privilege
That fly would see fit
To share the spoon
Elephant would trust enough
To invite his grief,
And sequoia would endow
~Megan Hollingsworth, MS, is a mother, writer, and yogic practitioner with deep roots in the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) stemming back to religious persecution in Ireland. At the close of 2011, Megan initiated Extinction Witness, a global arts project of Empowerment WORKS 501c3, to support those who ‘live in a world of wounds’ and amplify the compassionate response to human suffering at the root of long-standing genocide and accelerated biodiversity loss and species extinction. She serves as a lead team member for Lost Species Day, November 30, which offers a chance each year to learn about extinct and critically endangered species, lifeways, and ecological communities, and engage in practical helpful action. With guidance from colleagues, Megan has authored a Vow 2 Act recently published in Unpsychology Magazine’s Climate Minds Anthology. Her work has been published in online journals and writing samples can be found at her blog and poetry website – www.waildance.com.
Excellence Reporter 2018 Copyright ©Megan Hollingsworth