Do you ever wonder what it’s all about? Why am I here? Where am I going? What should I do with my life? Those things are natural and healthy. As good old Henry David said, “the unexamined life is not worth living.” In more than one self improvement book I’ve read the exercise of imagining your own funeral. How many would attend? More importantly, what would they say about you?
I was reading the paper this morning and paused on the obituaries. I read those of the “famous” like the captain of Jaques Coustaeu’s Calypso. He died yesterday at the age of 84. I thought of the adventures he had and how he must have had a satisfying life. And I read of a local woman who lived to be 102. She had 4 children, 12 grandchildren, 25 great grandchildren, 10 great-great-grandchildren, and 13 step grandchildren. Her obituary said she was the most loving mother, grandmother, friend and mentor god ever put on earth. She must have felt immensely fulfilled and spent her life wisely.
All this caused me to pause and reflect. I’m proud of my accomplishments. I’m proud of my wife and son. I’m lucky to be doing what I’ve always wanted to do working as a photographer. I feel good helping new photographers develop. I have great friends. I’m sure my eulogy will be pleasant. “He was easy going and had a great sense of humor.” But am I satisfied with that? Is there something more for me?
I used to believe that more would just happen to me. All I had to do was wait for it. But the reality is if you want more you have to make it happen. I’ve done a bit of traveling. I’ve been to Honduras, Mexico, and Canada. Just enough traveling to know that I want more. I’ve finally reached a point in my life that I’m getting my finances in order and realizing that simplifying my life and possessions really makes me happy.
My dad worked all his life saving for retirement. He retired at 65, bought a motor home, and died 6 months later having never driven it more than 40 miles from his house. I don’t want to wait until I’m too old or worse, dead, to enjoy my retirement or my life.
So what does this all mean? What is the meaning of life? I think the concept of finding the meaning of life is like waiting for things to happen to you. Rather than looking for the meaning of life I think we need to give our lives meaning. Whether you believe in an afterlife or reincarnation or whatever I think it’s most productive to assume this is our one and only shot at it. Don’t be satisfied with ordinary. Go out and make something happen. They say, “all good things come to those who wait.” BS! Ordinary comes to those who wait. Take a chance. Make mistakes. Dare to live extraordinarily!