Found a quote last week that summed a few things up for me:
A man has made at least a start on discovering the meaning of human life when he plants shade trees under which he knows full well he will never sit.
D. Elton Trueblood
We celebrate “self”. We are taught to feel good about ourselves, that we can accomplish anything and that all we have to do to get whatever we want is declare our intention. God is but a being who is there to give us our needs, the “Universe” hears us and gives us whatever we “put out there.” Mr. Rogers, Barney, our teachers and our parents told us we are special. We thump our own chests, we draw attention to ourselves, we Tebow. Look at me, I am special!
The Buddhists tell us that the two saddest times of our lives are “When we don’t get what we desire and when we get what we desire.” There is a certain tragedy that comes with a life based on acquisition and desire.
In my experience, the true meaning of life and maturity does not come from acquisition or acquiring “happiness.” It also doesn’t come from “leaving my mark.” Our ego wants us to think we are separate beings, that we live on long after our bodies. Maybe we do, maybe we don’t, that why this question is called a mystery. Living a life based on our separateness is doomed to alienation, loneliness and emptiness.
So What is Left?
I do know this, we are given the gift of a life. While we are unique, we are only here for a while. While we are special, we are part of a bigger picture. While some of us may be remembered, some will be quickly forgotten, our impression on this life washed away like a sandcastle at high tide.
Understanding that we are all “food for worms” is not depressing, it is uplifting. We are given a chance to create a marvelous and unique life and we can use this gift to make this world a better place while we are here. What is permanent is love, there is no past tense. What is permanent is hope, we can give it to others. What is permanent is faith, it has sustained life in this world since the beginning of time.
Most importantly, we are creations who are given the ability to create, we can produce something that is beautiful, meaningful and even useful with the talents we brought here. Carpe Diem baby, seize the day and make something! Solve a problem, paint something beautiful, raise a child, plant a tree.
You are special. Just like everyone else!
If you have ever loved anyone else, you will understand the beauty and humility of this song. My favorite part of the song comes after in the genuine humility the performer exhibits in taking his bow. It’s almost like he comes out of the zone and is surprised by the crowd’s reaction, or that they are even there. He has used his creative gift to make the world better and done it with humility.