Friday, October 23, 2009

My theory on the meaning of life

A Facebook friend of mine had asked a rhetorical question of "What's it all about?" Knowing me though, I couldn't resist answering! Here is my response as I wrote it on Facebook:

In short, my theory of the meaning of it all is that we all exist for a reason. We are here, right now, to contribute in some way to our progress in the so-called "march of history". We may be major players on the world's stage, or we could have bit parts, but we all matter in the grand scheme of things - that is, no one person is more important than another. Our life's journey is to discover what that role is, and to do what we can to live up to it. As for me, I couldn't think of a more exciting journey than that of discovering our life's calling.

Here I'm going to give a more detailed response.

Like I said above, I believe that we all have a role in life. We appear on the scene at a given point in time, then we try to fulfill what role it is that we are to play in our life, then we leave (i.e., we die). Just to get some questions out of the way, I am a non-denominational Christian - that is, I believe in Jesus Christ as God and as the savior of humanity, but I do my worshipping on a more personal basis rather than through an organized Christian religion.

You might say that I'm still shopping, because I want to find the right blend of living the "letter of the law" and the "spirit of the law". While I can identify with a lot of what evangelicals say, I don't like some of the more rigid views they hold. On the flip side, the more liberal Christians are basically indistinguishable from their secular liberal friends - so really, why bother with a group of Christians that can throw God away whenever their faith butts up against cherished liberal dogmas?

At the same time, I do recognize the benefits of belonging to a community of Christians; I just haven't found the one that's right for me. I know that there never will be a "perfect" Christian community, and at some point I'll just have to take the plunge and join a group and hope that the Good Lord has guided me to the community that is best for me. However, while I may not know what is the right one for me, I do know what is NOT right for me - so it looks like I'll be finding my way around through the process of elimination.

So in summary, let's say that I believe in the existence of God, and I believe in Jesus Christ as his son and that he died for our sins in order to open up the gates of heaven for us all. And because I believe in God, I also believe that he has roles for us to play in the course of living our lives. However, let me just as quickly add that I do NOT believe in predestination; that is, the idea that God not only has a plan for our lives, but there is nothing we can do about it, and that we will go to our eternal reward to the place he has already decided in advance that we will be going. The flaw in that thinking, though, is that there is no incentive to be good, because if you're going to hell no matter how saintly a life you live on earth, then "what the hell", you might as well live a life of reckless abandon! When you get down to it, predestination is depressing.

What I believe instead that God knows how our lives are going to turn out, but he doesn't determine your final reward; that is up to you. You can lead a saintly life and live an afterlife in heavenly bliss. But if it's a hellish life you choose to live and spending your afterlife with God is not your cup of tea, then it's the Inferno for you, baby, because the only place to not be with God in the afterlife is in hell.

Having said all that, let's get to the point that I stated above in my response to my friend. I believe that we all have a role to play in life. Our goal is to discover that role. Now, to explain my philosophy in this, I like to use two analogies: A theatrical production and a picture puzzle.

When you go to a theatrical play, you see the actors and judge how well they performed in their roles. The better ones stand out and you keep them in mind for the times they are in future plays. BUT! The play's performance is not just the actors. No my friends, so much more goes into putting the play together. There's costume design and make-up, and script and lighting and directing and musical score and musical orchestras, and... well, you get the idea. A play is not just about the actors, but about a complex and coordinated bunch of activities going on both on and off the stage. A well-coordinated effort will produce a memorable play. A poorly-executed effort will also be memorable - but in the wrong way!

While we may make big to-do's over certain actors or actresses, they are only part of the play. The most visible part of the play, granted, but without all the production crew, they wouldn't have the stage for which to be seen in the first place, and then where would their egos be? What this means is that no one player of the play is more important than the other - they all need each other in order to put out a play that will be a performance for the ages. If they all get along, then a splendid product is put out to rave reviews. However, if there is dissension in the ranks, then the play's performance suffers accordingly, and the producers can expect harsh reviews afterwards.

As for the picture puzzle analogy, each and every piece of such a puzzle is important - no one piece is more important than another. You can have the whole puzzle assembled except for one piece, and what will catch your eye first? You got it - the missing piece. In the course of your life, you will discover that you have certain talents and skills; in turn, you also discover that you have certain weaknesses and limitations. Theses strengths/weaknesses and talents/limitations help shape who we are and what we can become. Or in the puzzle analogy, they help shape the type of puzzle piece that we become.

Along with learning the roles in our lives, something just as important is to discover our limitations; that is, what we just weren't meant to do. We have to recognize that we have our limits. Accepting those limitations is the first step to adult maturity. The most childish of adults are those who never accepted responsibility for their actions.

What this all ultimately mean to me, then, is that life is a journey. We start at birth and end at death, and in between, we learn about ourselves and the world and the role we are to play in it. You discover that role by learning your strengths and limitations and operating accordingly.

Of course, there will be times in which you simply do not know what you should do or what path you should take. In such times, I pray the Serenity Prayers, which goes basically like so:

"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can change, and the wisdom to know the difference."

It's short, and yet so profound, which is why I love that prayer.

Okay, I didn't mean to go on like this! LOL I hope, though, that what I said above makes sense, and I hope that I haven't bored my poor friend by responding to a question that wasn't looking for an answer! :-)

You guys have a great weekend, and I'll discuss more the previous blog entry on breasts and society, and the reactions I got to that entry. But feel free to keep sending those responses. I've also yet to hear from any of the ladies, and I so want your feedback on this as well.

See you Monday!

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