» Archive for September, 2008

Fiercely naive

Sunday, September 14th, 2008 by admin

At fifty-five it feels arrogant to talk about how we can create meaning in life because I’m not a scholar and at age 55 I feel too young to spout wit and wisdom. I think by age 70 a person might have earned that right. Having admitted I’m on shaky ground now some thoughts about creating meaning. The Creator gave us everything we need to live and gave us the plants and animals as teachers. Anytime you have a question, take it to nature and you’ll be given an answer. All the animals and plants remember their Original Instructions; only humankind who doesn’t remember theirs. Many people are trying to remember the instructions to live by, to “find meaning.” From listening to others who’re much smarter than me and following my own train of thought, I’ve concluded we don’t “find” meaning in the sense of “finding the meaning of life” but rather we create meaning after making a deliberate and conscious decision to do so. You might call this “living with intent” or “intentional living” or becoming a “meaning-maker.” This isn’t necessarily easily done or uncomplicated but I think making the decision is what opens the door to a life lived authentically, deeply and with meaning.

From my lofty 55-year old perch it seems that if we intend to create meaning that has staying power and quality, we have to consider the welfare and care of others and, most especially, whether our actions bring harm or loss to others. Efforts devoted to personal aims and ego will most likely eventually feel lonely and shallow. It’s a dicey business to decide to become a meaning-maker, it’s not a popular choice these days (more about that later) but the alternative may incur a heavy burden of regret later in life. And some folks point out it may be later than we think! The decision to live as a meaning-maker, choosing to lead a meaningful life, is the sign of a truly mature human being – the mark of a true Elder – a leader, an example to others, a role model for our children and someone whose behavior we’d be proud to see them emulate.

I tend to vacillate between pessimism and optimism so bear that in mind when I say this: choosing to live as a meaning-maker so that your decisions and behavior matter, requires enormous courage these days because it seems to be out of favor. Acting as if our daily actions and behaviors actually matter isn’t a popular notion in the dominant cultures of the world. The people and the predominant media have chosen reality television and soap opera fantasies above authentic news and views, real life and real people. This is the decision of the people; the media follow the people, not the other way around. Personal responsibility means owning up to that. If you don’t like violence as entertainment turn your television off and don’t pay or play those movies, shows, games and magazines. Conversations about thoughtful and serious topics might be unfashionable and unpopular at some parties and dinners – but they’re very popular at others – you just have to find your kindred spirits and hang with them! But stick with it! Somewhere a long the line are companions who want to share ideas and laughter about authentic topics and non-violent real life. There’s a world full of good folks who really do try to live by and practice the principles of goodness, compassion, honesty and dignity.¬†Laughter is good medicine too!

If we try as best we can to uphold the meaningful principles of justice and ethics whether from a personal path or a spiritual or religious path, we may yet become a world of healthy, worthy elders – and our children and youth will have a new chance to heal from the depression, confusion and suicidal choices that haunt them. We, the adults, can talk to about integrity, honor and compassion. And we can choose to admit that we need deep and profound healing. We crave that healing and we search for it everywhere outside ourselves. Like desperate children we cast around for anything to soothe us. Electronics have taken the place of an embrace or a handshake.

Where does our courage fail us? Where does my courage fail me? I’m taking my inventory, trying to find the truth about my love and my fears. I invite you to do the same. There is much that we can do together, taking one day at a time. With one small change at a time we change the world. To look at life as though we are responsible is at best inconvenient and at worst frightening or even terrifying but as adults that’s our job. We are responsible. If we can open ourselves up to profound healing and humbly look for ways to help others, the way forward will open one step at a time.

The adventure can be to find something we truly care about in our community – and get involved. Not a long commitment – or a big one – but willingness to try different things until you find a good fit. You get to choose what that is. We can create change for a better world and it matters that we try. Our efforts matters. No-one can do what you and I can do. Our efforts are unique. You matter. Your work matters.