The Meaning of Life

I overslept this morning. I’ve been running low on sleep for a week and it caught up with me yesterday. I tried to nap after church but I can’t really sleep during the day. Last night, I skipped my usual reading time and turned the lights out. I finally woke up around 9:30 this morning. I don’t have my usual research time today. Consequently, today’s post will be different.

The subject is one I’ve thought about for a long time. I had a quick response if anyone ever asked me the question. No one ever has. The question? “What’s the meaning of life?”

CitySlickersEveryone has thought about this. It’s the classic question Mitch (Billy Crystal) asked Curly (Jack Palance) in the movie, City Slickers. Curly’s answer was, “One thing. It’s up to you to determine what that one thing is.”

The answer was a truism. But Curly was wrong about one part. It’s not ‘one’ thing. It can be many things depending on your stage of life. Some of them can be quite foolish. Especially those ‘things’ chosen when we’re younger.

I overheard a conversation not long ago. Two younger women were discussing their ‘bucket lists.’ Both appeared to be in their early twenties. One had a long list that included travel, sight-seeing, hiking, skiing, each one carefully enumerated and she had them in an order to be done. The other only had a few, less than half a dozen if I remember correctly. The first woman asked the second what she was going to do after she had finished her list. The second, looking worried, said, “I don’t know.”

The news today in Missouri is the apparent suicide of Tom Schweich’s media aid, Spence Jackson. Immediately, the media turned the discussion to the spread of depression and the symptoms of those with depression. Less is spoken about the cause of depression in so many folks.

I don’t claim to have a specific answer to that question. The answer is most likely unique to each individual. But it leads to my answer to the classic question. It answers many questions. The general answer for depression is, “they didn’t have anything to look forward to.”

It can be a critical subject at various times. Some people are so busy, they neglect to ask that question of themselves until suddenly they discover they have nothing to look forward to. No new goals, no new discoveries, no new tasks, nothing to do, nothing to achieve. Boredom comes next and that leads to other problems, depression being just one.

The answer to the meaning of life is to have something to look forward to. Regain that sense that was lost. Think of the joyful anticipation you had when your were younger and looking forward to your birthday, or Christmas, or a holiday, or a visit to or from friends, going to a ball game, fishing, hunting (yes, I’m male and have difficulty thinking what women would do in similar cases.) The point is retaining that sense of joyful anticipation you once had. With that, life regains its focus and purpose.

Curly was wrong. Life isn’t just one thing. It’s a series of things, one following the other, sometimes connected, sometimes not, but each giving us the sense of anticipation and accomplishment, until the next thing appears over our horizon.

What are you looking forward to? Is there an event coming up over your horizon? What is your next goal to work for? What are you anticipating with that sense of glee you once had?

People value those things that are earned. What value are you earning that will give you your next vision rising over the horizon? My list, if it really is one, has three items on it. I’ve achieved two of those. I’m working on the third. If I finish that last item, I’ll find another and draws my interest, another goal to work towards, and finishing that, starting another. That, is the meaning of life. A continuing life of anticipation that is fulfilling.