By Susie Ekberg
Yet another segment of our beloved children’s questions. As always, they never cease to astound me with the depth of their questioning. Maybe next time I should have one of THEM answer the questions!
Q: What’s the meaning of life?
A: Chocolate and video games. No wait – coffee and pizza. No wait – work and money. No wait – I have to stop asking other people what they think the meaning of life is, because everybody says something different. Isn’t that sort of like life? If you ask someone what their favorite color is, you’ll get all sorts of different answers. Same thing about favorite pets, or food, or book. So if you’re asking ME, I’m only telling you ONE opinion (mine), but there are 8 billion other opinions out there, and they’re all as valid as mine.
I’ve actually thought a lot about the meaning of life, more so in the past few years. I used to think it was a lot of things – family, friends, getting as far as you can, owning a Rolex watch, traveling a lot.
But if I really think about it, and keep getting more and more specific about THE meaning of life, the only thing that I think matters at ALL, at the end of everything, is that we love each other.
No “things” really matter – we can lose them, they can break or get taken from us. No accomplishments really matter – they’re just noted with ceremonies or pieces of paper, and don’t really make us better people. Jobs don’t mean everything (they’re important, and we need to have them to keep the world running, but they don’t define who we ARE).
It seems when we’re younger we think about the physical events and activities, and as we grow older move more toward the external trappings of work and travel and accomplishments. Then we might emotionally declutter and get back to more basic needs (Does that mean I’m really old because I’m back to the basics again? Could be).
Friends and family are important…ah, there, we’re getting closer. Can you feel that, when you read that sentence? How did it make you feel in your heart? Happy? That’s a good clue when you’re thinking about what your meaning of life is. What makes you happy. So the list can be really long, like puppies, rats, eating spaghetti, watching “Finding Nemo,” building Legos, dancing.
So I say that’s what gives your life meaning, and it’s really important to know that, and then to DO those things that make you happy. If you can find yourself saying, “Oh, I just LOVE to do that,” or “I just LOVE that person,” then you’re seeing what’s meaningful to you. Use that as your clue – love.
Everything else is just fluff and make-believe. We believe it’s real, and surround ourselves with the extra fluff to distract us. But we don’t need distraction, we need to do what we love, and what’s important to us. And figuring that out is an important task in your life, and one that can be a lot of fun, as well.
Make your list, and work on it from time to time, because your list will change. Don’t expect it to be the same as anyone else’s list, because you’re unique, and see the world through your own eyes.
Be bold, be true, be brave, be you. Your life is meaningful, and good, and important. And it’s up to YOU to give it meaning, and to live it in the best way possible. Start right now – get that piece of paper and pencil and write across the top: My Meaning of Life. Then get going. You should have a lot to write about AND think about. Just remember – the sky’s not even the limit.
Q: How many crayons would it take to circle the world?
A: Wow – my brain hurts. I could go with the stock answer of, “Let’s figure out the circumference of the earth, then measure how long one crayon is, then go from there.” I’m assuming it’s a really big big number.
But let’s go in another direction, shall we? I’m interested in WHY you wanted to know that answer – it feels like you’re someone who’s not only interested in asking the bigger questions, but interested in different things than most children. Maybe most kids are wondering if their friend can come over, or if they can have pizza for dinner, and here you are – contemplating the possibilities.
What other ‘big’ questions have you thought of? How about, “How many mice could you line up to get to the moon?” or “How many breaths will you breathe in your lifetime?”
Life is made up of a lot of things you have to do every day, and do the same way every day. You wake up, get dressed, brush your teeth, take a shower, eat your breakfast, put on your coat, walk to school, walk home, eat dinner, do your homework, brush your teeth, go to bed. Of course there are a lot of thoughts and other new things happening within those same things, but overall they seem to take up a big part of our days, and take up even more as we get older.
What happens if that’s ALL we do? What if we only think about the next thing in our day? What if we don’t think at all, but just go through the motions because nothing ever changes, like switching over to autopilot in the airplane because there’s nothing but a big blue sky of nothingness out there, nothing to warrant our attention?
Don’t get me wrong. It’s important to do all of those same things every day. Why? Because part of life is learning responsibility through work, and part of life is learning how to take care of our bodies and homes and others.
But you don’t need to be on automatic for ALL of your day. In those in-between moments when your mind is free, you can just choose to sit and breathe and enjoy the present moment, or you can close your eyes and daydream about the what-ifs. What if I could fly? What if I could live on another planet? What if I could live underwater? What if plants could talk? What if we could slip through a wormhole and be in another part of the universe?
When you’re able to stretch your mind a little, it’s like you’re exercising it, making it stronger, bigger, more capable of holding new thoughts. You learn about embracing and living the concept of unlimited potential. As Henry Ford said, “I am looking for a lot of men who have an infinite capacity to not know what can’t be done.”
If you could do anything in the whole world, what would you do? Don’t worry if it makes “sense” or not, or if it’s even possible. I just want to know what you would do. Be an airplane pilot, a professional musician, an astronaut, a grade school teacher, an artist? Never stop dreaming, never stop believing in the impossible, for today’s possibles are yesterday’s impossibles.
How many crayons would it take to circle the world? How many do YOU think it would take? And what’s your next question? I can’t wait to hear it.
‘There is no use trying,’ said Alice: ‘one can’t believe impossible things.’ ‘I dare say you haven’t had much practice,’ said the Queen. ‘When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.’
– Lewis Carroll
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