As the move to San Francisco approaches, I find myself thinking about the meaning of life a lot these days. At different times in my life I have asked a couple of tough questions. Why am I here? What is my purpose? Am I living life to its full potential?
The last time I thought about this, I believe my answer was that I am here on earth to help others in life. I should help others to be successful and not tear them down or judge them. I am here to build people up and challenge them, myself, and society to greater levels of truth, knowledge, and artistic beauty. I still believe this, but I think there is more to it.
As I now ask myself these questions, I believe that I am here also for an adventure. I am here to have experiences that will help me to learn and grow. There are many different adventures in life, and I don’t think that anyone has the exact same adventure. For example, many people find themselves on the family adventure with the experience of raising kids. Each parent in the world has a very unique experience with their child that is not exactly replicated anywhere else on the planet or in history. The sad part is that we are so fast to judge other people’s adventures because they don’t fit into our understanding of life, or maybe other people’s adventures cause us to reflect to closely on our own lives. I confess that I have at times been prone to judge other people’s adventures. Luckily, I am with a man who consistently challenges me to look beyond my own insecurities and control issues to appreciate other people’s unique journeys without judging them. He builds me up, and he doesn’t tear me down. I’m beginning to think that judging others is definitely a direct result of a person’s insecurity with their own life and their unhealthy need for control.
Bitterness can arise if I expect certain things out of life or try to control and manage life so that it fits into the boxes that I want it to fit in. The only expectation I can truly have on life is that it is ever changing. There are good things and bad things, and they are constantly surrounding me at every turn of the road. There was a time in my life when I thought I had the job I would retire from and lived in the in the house I would grow old in. “We make plans, and God laughs.” As it turns out, my road was not destined to be so straight and narrow, and I am very glad that change came into my life. The time in Portland has been refreshing and I am looking forward to the new adventures in San Francisco. Living on the West Coast has opened my life to many different people, new hobbies, healthy food choices, green living/environmental responsibility, and new expressions of art and beauty.
Too many people allow bitterness and regret to run their lives when their expectations are not met. But then again, I have not taken their particular journey, and I really have no foundation on which to judge another person. Judgment seems to be a seductive trap that is always present.
To wrap this up, I believe the meaning of life for me is not “comfortable shoes” as Cliff Claven on Cheers once said, but instead it is to help others and have a wonderful adventure with unexpected twists and turns. At least that is my meaning of life, but yours may be different.
My 91 year old grandmother once said that when she looked back on her life she saw it as a series of chapters in one long book of adventure. She could clearly see where one chapter ended and another began. In the short time I have been on this earth, I can already see what she means. My boyfriend and I are starting a new chapter of our lives, the San Francisco years. This doesn’t mean that we won’t come back to Portland, but if we do we will be older with a whole new set of experiences that will shape our perspective on life. There may be a Portland II chapter, or even a Portland III chapter. I don’t know. I don’t really want to know. I’ve always figured that even if a fortune teller could tell my future, why would I want to know? I don’t want someone spoiling my adventure by telling me the ending.
These are my ramblings on this calm, peaceful, and overcast day here at the Palio Coffeehouse in Portland.