Why do we suffer to make a living only to die, eventually? What is the reason for our being here, for the length of time we spend on this side and why?
I have asked these questions for a very long time and for a very long time I looked at other people’s lives and wished I was living their lives. I was told to find out what I am passionate about, what makes me sad as pointers to the reason for my existence and although I found things I was passionate about, I wasn’t passionate enough to make a difference.
I have thought of why was I born into this country, at the time I was born, the day, month and year of birth. Why my parents, why my children, siblings… I never found satisfactory answers to my questions .
I asked these questions while going through the motions – school, marriage motherhood, career. Things I did because, that’s what I was supposed to do and that’s what society expected of me.
I wondered at the reason for my existence, but I was asking the wrong questions. Instead of asking life for its meaning, life was asking questions of me.
Questions like what are you going to do about your circumstances? What are you going to do about your talents, skills, gifts and experiences? What contribution are you going to make to this person’s life and for that person.
In his book “Man’s Search for Meaning”, Viktor Frankl frames it thus “we needed to stop asking about the meaning of life and instead to think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life- daily and hourly. Our answer must consist, not in talk and meditation, but in right action and in right conduct. Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual.
These tasks , and therefore meaning of life, differ from man to man, and from moment to moment. Thus, he says “it is impossible to define the meaning of life in a general way. Questions about the meaning of life cannot be answered by sweeping statements. Life does not mean something vague but something very real and concrete, just as life’s tasks are also very real and concrete. They form man’s destiny which is unique and different for each individual. No man and no destiny can be compared with any other man or any other destiny. No situation repeats itself and each situation calls for a different response. Sometimes the situation in which a man finds himself may require him to shape his own fate by action. At other times it is more advantageous for him to make use of an opportunity for contemplation and to realize assets in this way. Sometimes man may be required simply to accept fate and bear his cross. Every situation is distinguished by its uniqueness.”
For some of us, the answers we give back to life are world changing, answers such as penicillin, the internet, the mobile phone, air conditioning ( God bless that person immensely) but for the majority of us the answers present themselves in each situation we are faced with.
So, instead of looking at a grandiose plan to fulfill, let’s find meaning in life in our particular framework of time. Let’s find meaning in the children we are nurturing, in the work we are doing, in the relationships we are building, in the stories we are telling. Let’s answer the questions life is asking of us by being who we are meant to be. It’s not in the big and outlandish but in the impact it makes on that one person in our life right now.
So for me, Life requires for now that I share my stories, experiences and thoughts. In so doing, I find the fulfillment I have sought for so long.
What is Life asking of you?