Many of us reach points in our life where we ponder what is meaningful. It may stem from being in a place where we feel stuck and directionless. Being here can feel scary. For beneath it all (I believe) is the knowledge that life is fleeting. And that we want our one life to matter - to mean something to ourselves, and to others. We don’t want to feel as if we are wasting this precious time that we have.
This question of meaning has lingered in my mind ever since my mother passed three years ago. And perhaps even earlier. If I look back on the periods of confusion in my earlier years when I questioned what I was to do with my life, the more apt question might have been - what is meaningful to me?
Lately my six year old son has had a thought running through his mind:
“I don’t know how to entertain myself” he says. “Why is it important?”
And I wonder, does his question run deeper? Perhaps not and I’m overthinking it (as I often do).
But it led me to wonder: once we discover and truly understand that all of life eventually comes to an end, is it then that this question of meaning becomes the chorus of our life? A chorus necessary to experience to live a life that feels meaningful to us.
Timothy Butler in his book “Getting Unstuck” refers to it as impasse:
“These feelings at first may bring alarm, but we must come to recognize them as signals that an important process is beginning. Being at impasse is a developmental necessity. It can lead to a new way of understanding and a new type of information. We have arrived at an important frontier”
Answering this question of what is meaningful isn’t easy.
I know because I’m still trying to discover the answer, and it changes. But that’s OK, we are (and our thoughts are) always in a state of flux. We experience impasse at various stages throughout our lives.
My current thoughts on what is personally meaningful:
Slowing down long enough to see (and feel) the beauty before me, with a whisper within telling me these moments won’t be with me forever
Creating art which evokes this “sad-beautiful” feeling
Sharing this with others in the hope of inspiring an appreciation for life
We all have our own unique version of what is meaningful. And discovering the answer often involves confronting that uncomfortable space from time-to-time, where we are alone and feel lost. For in that space unlocks the door to finding one more clue to the mysterious (and magical) puzzle of our life.