The last few months my over-extended 12-year old has asked me repeatedly, ‘What is the meaning of life?’ It could be argued there is no meaning. We are simply born to exist, procreate then die.
Theologians would argue our purpose is to glorify and serve God. Others might say it is your journey. Follow the path and learn, enlightenment of the individual is life’s true meaning.
But I was recently at a gathering where the speaker introduced us to a quote by artist Pablo Picasso. An unlikely source, he is quoted as saying, ‘The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.’
The meaning of life is to find your gift.
The purpose of life is to give it away.
I bonded with this philosophy right away; if not for the advancement of ourselves and the betterment of others, then what? My 12-year old wasn’t so easily convinced. When I presented it to him he shrugged and replied, ‘I think life is about more than painting.’
So I elaborated, what if your gift is to make music, music that inspires people, lifts them up and makes them happy? What if your gift is caring for other people, and you spend your life attending to the sick or elderly?
He thought for a few moments, leaving me with the words, ‘Something to think about.’
Indeed. It is actually a lot to think about. But the meaning of life is kind of like walking. And I use the term walking as a loose metaphor. It doesn’t matter the terrain upon which we tread or even the destination, we have no choice but to walk. If necessary, we are forced to walk, even during the worst of times and circumstances. Life will not allow you to simply stand idle. You can’t stand still at all.
So the meaning of life in those terms is by-the-by. Irrelevant. It could all be for nothing, unless we extend ourselves and give to the greater good. Make the unavoidable journey in some way worthwhile. I hazard to suggest that Mr Picasso hit that nail on the head. Perhaps that is the true meaning of life.