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I often wonder about the “meaning of life,” and what it means that I even wonder.

Does the meaning of life really matter as much as the purpose we each assign to that life?  I guess the meaning of life is to be alive, and nothing more.  The purpose of life (in my view) is more complex: to love and connect with others (in a family, partnership or friendship), to learn and use life’s lessons to better oneself, to be a steward to the Earth and enjoy Her bounty.  If everybody sought these purposes in their lives and stopped pursuing money and “success” as the ultimate measures of life’s worth, I believe a lot of this world’s problems would cease to exist.

As a result of our technological advancements in recent decades, we are connected with more people around the globe.  I don’t think this is an evolution of our consciousness, but rather a coincidental symptom of the disease that is sweeping the world. I think that people around the world had a more parallel mindset back in the times before global connection, when the focus of our lives was the home, family and homeland.

But what’s done is done, and now we do have the opportunity to share information with people we, the general public, would not have been able to contact just 100 years ago.  So we should use this opportunity to do good, to help clean up the mess we’ve made of the planet.

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Our everyday tasks do have meaning.  Everyday tasks might include labor to earn money to support family, child-raising, cleaning or maintaining a household, tending crops, preparing meals, etc.

Just because these tasks must be done every day, over and over, does not make them meaningless.  Our children are precious to us, therefore we do the things that must be done to keep them healthy and happy: clean them, feed them, teach them, play with them.  Our home is precious to us, so we spend our energy taking care of it and doing the things that must be done to make life in it enjoyable.

I believe that the intentions behind our actions are also important.  I do not believe that doing the “right” thing for the wrong reasons makes one’s actions right.  A woman or man who tends his/her children only because he/she is obligated to do so and does not want to be punished for abuse/neglect is not necessarily a “good” mother or father.  

However, the exhausted/stressed mother who doesn’t exactly whistle while she works and doesn’t love to cook or clean but does so anyway because she loves her family is a good mother.  A frozen dinner prepared with love and laughter will nourish a family’s heart more than a homemade meal prepared with anger and resentment.  However, given the chemical and nutritional content of today’s conventional diets, I think that any food that is as organic, non-modified and unprocessed as possible is best (after all, the point of eating is to strengthen our bodies, is it not?)

I also feel that how we spend our free time is very important.  In fact, I place great significance on the recreational items I find in people’s homes.  For example, most people I know are very wrapped up in technology.  One would find shelves of movies, video games, computer games and other electronic entrapments in their rooms.  

And I am not just referring to my less-educated acquaintances; some of the smartest people I know have electronic umbilical cords.  It really makes me sad to see this, because I feel that sitting in front of some buzzing contraption that feeds our brains artificial stimulation is not enriching, productive or beneficial in any other terms I can think of.  

And yet, television is one of the focal points of our culture.  I myself have been guilty of arranging my living room furniture to make the TV the centerpiece (a common practice in our society.)  I feel that any other pastime is better than being captivated by an electronic gadget.

The latest word is that we’re doomed.  

We can put aside the details, such as how we got this way, how long it will take for us to be wiped off the face of the earth, that sort of thing is all beside my current objective, which is to imagine what comes next.

One of the most profound moments of a human being’s life is when they reach complete consciousness of their own mortality.  Our lives take on new meaning as we view our existence from an imaginary point in death: how we will be remembered, how will the sum of our actions and words appear,  what impact will we have had.  

Such a perspective helps us to crystallize our purpose.  We can realize which path we have been following, and decide to continue or veer in another direction.  This epiphany is an important moment, ideally an important series of moments over a lifetime, from the viewpoint of semanturgy, which is a conscious working with meaning.  To apply principles and purposes directly to a life consciously lived is semanturgy in it’s essential form.

We must imagine beyond our individual deaths when considering global warming, nuclear war, or any other event or process leading to the potential end of humanity.  It is not enough to wonder, what impact will I have? or how will I be remembered? if it is the apocalypse.  Who will be around to give a damn?  Now the questions become impossibly bigger.  What did it mean that ANY of us were around?  What impact did ANY of us have?  

If we accept some measure of responsibility in the cause of the end, then I suppose we have to say that the meaning we constructed in our world reflects a larger value being placed on things such as profit and power rather than on the life of any of earth’s creatures, including ourselves.

And assuming we dutifully play our part in the solution, voting, writing letters, buying locally, cycling, however we choose to participate, and assuming that the end comes anyway, then what does it all mean?  

If you are a member of a certain religion that explains all this, then you have it all sorted out, so read no further.  

For the rest of us, we come to an extremely existential moment in which all word, deed and relic of humanity falls uselessly into oblivion.  Yet after this experience, we still have to figure out what is for dinner, complete another task on our to-do list, conduct smalltalk with the cashier at the grocery store.  What is the overarching goal of our day to day survival, if we will never be the next Elvis or Mother Theresa, never be remembered or revered, if even the fostering of our bloodline, the fundamental biological goal of existence, will be for naught?  

Does it make our actions even more profoundly amazing, a generous gesture to a stranger, an encouraging word to a passerby, when we know it will come to nothing more than the fleeting presence of love, living only in the immediate moment and then lost forever?

I believe our personal possessions have meaning.  In fact, I believe that the things people value lend great insight into their owners’ private feelings and the way they view life.  For instance, a person who places great importance on money and whose dearest possession is their bank account views/lives life very differently than a person who has just enough money to survive and cherishes things that have some non-monetary significance.

The added significance of a homemade quilt or other special object enhances the quality of life and can serve to remind us of happy times and people we love.  When I tuck the kids under the blankets their Auntie made for them, bedtime has been improved; the necessary animal function of sleeping has been transformed into a ritual of relaxation and affirmation.  

I feel that all sentimental objects add a dimension to life that nourishes our souls while our bodies go through the motions of living.