Excellence Reporter: Alice, what is the meaning of life?
Alice Grist: I write a lot about the dirty and the divine, about how one is lost without the other. That holds true to this question, that question about the meaning of life that we find ourselves contemplating, usually in states of frustration with God, or in dark nights where the only light is a lonesome electrical bulb that we hesitate to turn off.
The meaning of life, for me, as discovered through dark nights that added up to a year, let’s call that year 2018, throw in a husband’s heart attack, his stint in rehab, my own adventures in single parenting, and a sense of beautiful, twisted, spirited isolation… is to exist and to experience. To find that elusive moment and to enjoy it, even when it hurts so bad.
Too often we become consumed by a ‘higher’ goal, obsessed by that need to be something other than what we currently are, to become a success, or abundant, or just plain acknowledged and known. Yet, it is always, in the surrendering to self, to this very second, that we find the best value.
In recent years life had it’s way with me, and I went from focused and intent, to flowing and surrendered. It was only in this surrender that I began to recognize the truth behind that famous phrase ‘ be here now’. When the moment is taken from us, by something horrible, or traumatic, it is then that we realize just how much we still have. So the best we can ever do is grasp tight to what we have, always, in this moment. Meanings be damned, this is the only meaning, right here, right now. Love this hard enough and it takes you to some interesting times and places you could not have planned.
There is no point spending a life aiming only for one thing, be it the grit or the mystical, life is a balancing act. Within this we are called to make lots of ‘mistakes’ (there are no mistakes btw – the only time I heard a disembodied spirit voice speak to me, it said just that), to push one’s limit, to find the edge of your self and then come flying back towards an easier way of being. And that way of being is accepting of self, of errors, of imperfections. This too is, sometimes, the very point of life. To mess up, time and time again, until those messes join with our traumas and our joy, and they form a beautiful, unexpected tapestry of soul; a story to share, a lesson thoroughly learned, a wise gift to give. Getting it wrong over and over, has so much worth.
Getting it right does too, but that is only done through the lens that says one way is the right way. Which is not true. All ways are experience, and all experience is valid and valuable. Getting it right (spiritually, lawfully or otherwise) is just one small fraction of the array of life we are meant to bump up against here. Which means that beyond what you think today about yourself, about others, everything is a weird kind of perfection. You are a beautifully weird kind of perfection.
So this is life, the meaning of it, to find ways to be, in the moment, wrong and right, dirty and divine, over and over, until such time as it stops, and we return home, laughing and knowing that we were always so very much more.
~Alice Grist is a spiritual author and teacher.
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