Does your life have meaning?

Does your life have meaning? Does my life have meaning? It’s a question worth asking ourselves every now and again, no matter what our age may be.

For myself, I find a curious paradox in play here. The older I get, the more apt I am to find meaning, joy, and fulfillment in a very simple moment and a very simple event.

For example, I was sitting on a bench beside the creek the other day and saw a couple walking along the trail with their black Labrador on a leash beside them.

The dog was doing its best to keep up with its owners though God knows it was a challenge because the silly creature had a gigantic branch firmly clenched in its jaws. The branch was bigger than the dog. It was about 4 feet long and 3 inches thick, and kept pulling the poor creature off-balance.

The dog struggled on doggedly nonetheless. What did it hope to achieve by carrying a large dead branch from one place to another? The answer to that one, of course, is that the dog was simply enjoying being a dog – which, I now know, includes the joy of transporting a large, unwieldy object from one place to another.

It’s remarkable how much meaning and wonder there is just waiting to be discovered all around us if we can just be still for a moment, and look and listen. My wife had a poignant experience of this many years ago when, as a young, single working mother, she used to work in an office in downtown Denver.

Every day, JoAnn used to park her car and walk to work so wrapped up in the struggle of feeding her two young children and keeping a roof over their heads that she was oblivious to almost anything else.

One day, walking to work, she heard birds singing, and realized in that magical moment that something had changed in her, and her life was getting better. She realized the birds had been singing all along but she had been unable to hear them.

Life is calling to each of us in every moment, inviting us to open our eyes to new wonders, new possibilities, and new ways of seeing things.

As we are willing to relax a bit in our frantic rush to achieve this or that or fulfill some need or other, we discover in a moment of calm that meaning and happiness already exists.

And we see that the answer to the question at the beginning of this post is a resounding “yes.” Your life does have meaning. My life does have meaning. All that is necessary is that we open our eyes and see, in a moment of calm, the meaning and happiness that already exists at the core of all being and at the core of our own heart.

My best wishes to you. If you have some thoughts you’d like to share please do write.

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Marisa March 15, 2014 at 7:06 pm

Christopher,
After several days of exploring this exact question, I opened my email and here is your post. You have touched my soul. For me, personally, I needed time away from everything the past few days…..except the beauty of the children, the magnificence of the Universe, and the music that soothes my spirit and soul.
No matter how desolate you may feel, if you recognize and accept the meaning and importance of not only your own life, but all those we share this Universe with, we will all sing in the rain, blow butterfly kisses, and welcome one another with love and peace.
Marisa

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Christopher Foster March 16, 2014 at 6:16 pm

Thank you Marisa. If I touched your soul with my words, you have touched my soul with your words. We surely are part of a larger universe, a larger reality and it’s good to be on the way home.

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Durwin Foster March 15, 2014 at 10:18 pm

wonderful post, dad. reminds me of a time when a friend and I went to see the Dalai Lama for a day long event when he was in Vancouver. I remember having a “peak” experience at the end of that day, where I was in the shower I think it was, and just feeling that my life was utterly saturated with meaning. Nothing special was happening — just having a shower, after all — but the sense of meaning was infused throughout.

This remembrance or noticing didn’t last, but still provides a touchstone in memory for other moments when perhaps the intrinsic meaning is being overlooked or not felt so effortlessly.

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Christopher Foster March 16, 2014 at 6:20 pm

Durwin, thanks so much. What a beautiful and evocative comment. So happy to be sharing this journey with you. Take care.

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solidgoldcreativity March 15, 2014 at 10:26 pm

A lovely post. Thank you, and best wishes with your recovery.

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Christopher Foster March 16, 2014 at 6:22 pm

Thank you so much, your words are a blessing.

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Tina March 16, 2014 at 12:46 am

Another beautiful thoughtful piece of writing.
Thankyou!

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Christopher Foster March 16, 2014 at 6:24 pm

Hi Tina, thanks so much for your comment and for taking the time to write it.

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DiscoveredJoys March 16, 2014 at 3:27 am

A tangential thought struck me as I was reading your lovely piece: how much our daily not-terribly-mindful life resembles the notion of a geas – an obligation or prohibition magically imposed on a person. Or a wierd – in the archaic sense, concerned with or controlling fate or destiny, often supernatural.

Although I don’t think the supernatural applies in this case, I agree – it’s remarkable how much meaning and wonder there is just waiting to be discovered all around us if we can just be still for a moment and cut ourselves loose of our (usually imaginary) social obligations.

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Christopher Foster March 16, 2014 at 6:41 pm

Thank you for sharing these most interesting and welcome thoughts. I have to admit I was not familiar with the word ‘geas’ — but now I am. As I read your comment, the word ‘boundless’ came to mind. The potential of that moment of stillness of which you speak truly is boundless, isn’t it.

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Sandra Pawula March 16, 2014 at 9:51 am

Beautiful said, Christoper. Life becomes so much richer when we stop living in the past or future.
Sandra Pawula recently posted..Are You Constantly Driven to Do More?

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SandiO March 16, 2014 at 9:25 pm

Chris-
I thoroughly loved reading this post.
We have been besieged by such a hard, cold winter this year, that people seem to be just in the worst of moods. I have never been extremely affected by the weather, as I spend a great deal of my time painting. But, I must tell you the other morning, (my favorite time of day), we were soon to be leaving for the committal service for my father-in-law and I decided to step outdoors as the sun finely was shining so brightly. The birds were singing beautifully, and there was a soft, cool breeze. I inhaled the fresh air as deep as I could, and as I exhaled I smiled at how wonderful it felt and smelled!
I have always loved birds, and we have a nature preserve behind our property so I am so blessed to hear so many different songs! My husband stepped outside and asked, “What are you doing?” I replied, “Oh, I cannot take in enough of this beautiful day!” Then I thought about my father-in-law, who had suffered from Alzheimer’s the past three or four years, and how he was not in touch with life around him…it had been taken away a long time ago. How his life lacked quality and meaning . We must learn to cherish each wonderful moment we are given, while we are able to still recognize them!

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Christopher Foster March 22, 2014 at 10:35 am

Your comment is most touching, and I’m not surprised you are a painter, you sure know how to use words to paint a picture. I apologize deeply for the delay in responding to your comment.

Yes indeed. Our moments are there to be cherished, just as you say, while we are still here to cherish them, while we still have the ability to cherish them. Not that I am religious, particularly, but there is a passage from the Bible that I have always loved: “A day with the Lord is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” There is so much richness in a day — and a moment — if we have eyes to see it.

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Frank Simmons March 17, 2014 at 11:00 am

I think everybody is in this world for some reason and so my life also have a meaning.The present time is the time we need to live and don’t need to bother thinking about anything else.
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Christopher Foster March 22, 2014 at 10:37 am

Absolutely. Thanks Frank.

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Maureen Moeller March 17, 2014 at 7:28 pm

How beautiful and true Christopher. The lovely dog story made me smile…what if we enjoyed being human as much as dogs LOVE being dogs? It actually reminded me of my 5 year-old grandson. The way he processes ideas and thoughts is a joy to behold. I asked him what he would like for his birthday and he said a large lock box. I asked why he wanted a lock box and he answered “To put things in, Grandma.” This child watches videos of the assemblage of a 747’s and wants to know exactly what makes a remote control car run so disassembles it. A curious and bright little one; his life is black and white.

Does he know how much his grandma’s heart breaks every time she must say goodbye and fly 1,000 miles back home? He doesn’t know for sure but he can feel something I have no doubt, especially when he watches his 9 year-old brother sobbing and clinging to his daddy and grandma.

Yes, our family is going through a heart wrenching divorce. What use to be a weekly visit only 50 miles apart has turned into a once every 3 month visit, at a huge expense, but oh so worth it. Now the bubbly smiles and giggles of my 3 grandchildren are really the most incredibly precious moments of my life…they always were but now more poignantly so. They give my life meaning and purpose; I only need to be present to receive their gifts of love, acceptance and child like innocence. Thank you for such a touching blog Christopher, as always. Your work is deeply appreciated by this reader! Much love, joy and light to you and your wife, JoAnn.

Maureen Moeller

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Christopher Foster March 22, 2014 at 11:04 am

Thank you for sharing so eloquently both the joys and challenges of your life, Maureen. As I was reading your words — and I’m sorry for my tardy response — I was touched by the way you are are handling this difficult circumstance in your family and in your life. Acceptance can be hard sometimes but isn’t it true that things that cause us pain also can help us grow and discover new meaning in life.

Your description of your 5-year-old grandson is charming. I was right there with you. Thank you for taking the time to share and I much appreciate your kind words about the blog. JoAnn and I send our love.

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Manju Devi May 13, 2014 at 6:16 am

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Thanks For Sharing This !!!!
Manju Devi recently posted..Ramta Actor Ho Gaya Lyrics Hazara Singh Ramta Song

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