My friend searches for the meaning of life. And gives me the answer each time I see him
today at 8:00 am
I’m chuckling. How well I know the frustration my friend is experiencing. For decades I went through the same exercise, seeking a definitive answer for the imponderable.
Eureka, I shouted, after reading Viktor Frankl’s book, “Man’s Search for Meaning.” All I have to do to find my reason for being is to identify a purpose in life that I feel good about, and then imagine that outcome.
But wait, is that a priori insight that comes from reasoning based on truths presumed self-evident? Or a posteriori knowledge acquired on the basis of proven experience?
Duh. My brain reeled. The search continued ad infinitum until the whole process became ad nauseam!
And then the paradox; after years of futility I gave up the search… and the answer came to me.
It is not an exercise for the brain. It is a visceral exploration that occurs in the heart, where our feelings are held.
A baby has the answer.
In fact, a baby IS the answer.
Having been nurtured by uterus and placenta it arrives as consciousness, aware of its existence, with the capacity to feel, perceive and experience subjectively. In that moment we are watching a sentient being experience THE FIRST MOMENT OF LIFE.
It is a miracle – the first moment of consciousness, a sentient being – the event itself a definition of life itself. The birth of awareness.
Now, exploding into the tableau, the miracle becomes more than biology turning clay into animation; another phenomenon makes itself felt with undeniable, unfathomable force. We are overwhelmed with LOVE.
The mother and those present at the miracle do not view the baby and methodically comment on its metabolism and homeostasis. They are flooded in emotion. They have indescribable feelings; a thesaurus of layered sensations: euphoria, jubilation, ecstasy…
Baby and witnesses – connected. Intense feelings of deep affection intertwined. The bond is unseen by the eye, but unbreakable.
When you witness life come into existence, you are not a clinician in a lab, but a human connected to the event amid a floodtide of rapturous feelings.
These are the connections that give life meaning! They are the moments when we are alive to our feelings!
They occur when we are vulnerable, revealing, trusting; when we share commonalities and connect to another person who shares his/her vulnerability, deep revelations and trust. ‘On the same wavelength becomes more than a cliché,’ it is a magical, mysterious ride on the same shaft of universal energy. And we are connected in the birth of the moment.
We are at a workshop together talking about our childhoods. The memories of your father, deceased for many years, come flooding into mind… the love you felt for him, the terrible grief at his loss… you are bereft, sobbing, lost in sadness. At the same time, my memories of my father, deceased for many years, come flooding into mind. I know all too well the feelings of love, the feelings of sadness, the poignancy of the two emotions crashing against me, wave and ebbtide, leaving me limp. We are connected. We are one. We are alive. The bond is lasting. Years later, we are in a support group. The conversation veers to a topic we often have talked about. Our eyes meet and sly smiles break out. Nothing is said. No need to speak. We are connected.
When I have difficulty answering the existential question, I remind myself; I am thinking about life rather than living it. I am stuck on a didactic jag. Better to vacate the scientific approach that engages my mind and browse the mystic poets, the sorcerers who write in the sand.
all this time
the sun never says to the earth,
“you owe me.”
with a love like that –
it lights the whole
And my favorite:
One regret that I am determined not to have
when I am lying upon my
is that we did not kiss
The lyrical Persian poet, Hafiz (1320 – 1389)