Recently, a friend of mine who happens to be a biology professor, who was craving a deeply philosophical discussion asked me expectantly, “What is the meaning of life?” I said, “You’re the biology professor. Are you serious?” He assured me that he was absolutely serious and that it’s a question he struggles with endlessly. I replied without hesitation, “Well, since you’re serious, I’ll tell you. The meaning of life is that life is everything and nothing at all”. “Go on,” he says.
Life is a gift. If we’re very lucky, we get it in an undented box, and maybe it’s even tied with a bow. How many of us are in reasonably good health, living in a reasonably good place, and have the means to take care of ourselves? A LOT. Out of those people, how many of them are taking this amazing opportunity, the gift of life and each day and running with it? The ones that chose to. It is indeed a choice. We have a choice to do everything we can just because we can, or we can choose to do nothing. Either way, the world will go on.
People living in oppression, in shacks, in captivity, wielding a scythe for hours on end every day so their community can eat have shown us they can be happy. How? It’s a state of mind. Whatever condition they were in or are in, they still shaped their reality, the reality of those around them, and continue to. Why? They choose to because they are grateful for life and the gift of each moment.
The “everything” of life is in the magnitude of the small. It’s about being kind and relishing the moment. It’s about being by someone’s side when they need you. It’s about sharing your goodies, be they chocolate or lessons you’ve learned.
The “nothing” of life is that many of us can and do chose to do nothing. What a fortunate choice for many to be able to make with so little obvious consequence. I know a guy who refuses to go find a job while his family has trouble keeping the roof and the food. He has a bed to sleep in every night and clean clothes. But his daughter hates him. There’s a lot of nothing going around– the people who don’t call, don’t show up, don’t help, don’t get out of bed… Really, the world doesn’t care, so why does it matter?
It matters to those who choose it to matter. They are in the moment, in their bodies, and choosing to open the gift. Life will go on without any one of us, surely it will. Why let it? Life can be a vast expanse of nothing, but it doesn’t have to be.
The glory that life is everything comes in the fact that it’s fleeting– every moment and life itself are the same thing. Once it’s gone, it’s over. My wish for everyone this year is that they make the choice to open the present. See you there!
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- A dozen ways to change your life around this year (despicablewonderfulyou.wordpress.com)