11 May 2010

What Has Meaning In Your Life?

I have been struggling with this post for days.  I truly thought this would be a very simple question with a very simple answer.  Here's how it began...

I got a call from a friend of mine who has been going through a pretty rough time.  She decided to get some help and so went to a therapist to help her brainstorm for solutions to help her situation.  Towards the end of the session, the therapist told her she needed to find something that gave meaning to her life.  She asked if that meant the therapist was suggesting she get a hobby or another job?  The therapist replied, "Not unless it was something that would give your life meaning.  It doesn't necessarily have to be something that you 'do.'

As I pondered this I realized, it could be a character trait that enables you to blossom.  A lesson in life that has given you a guideline to live by that ensures you carry peace and happiness inside you.  Maybe the real question here is what is it about our lives that gives it purpose and drive...

Like me, she thought this would be a pretty easy question to go home and find the answer to.  The fact is, as we both started listing the things we did in our lives or thought about our lives, that was meaningful to us, we realized that we were listing things that were more meaningful to the people in our lives.  

I love my kids, but physically taking care of them when I'm 80 is not my vocation.  Making sure our bills are paid and our plans for the future are going smoothly, does not inspire me.  Going on vacation may be relaxing and something I look forward to but even then, I'm taking care of everyone around me.  It never feels like I actually get an entire vacation to recharge and relax.  I do get some, but it's not the same as the rest of the family.

So my friend has three weeks to come up with the answers to this before she goes back to talk to the therapist. What is it about her life that fulfills her?  Gives her peace?  Gives her satisfaction?  Recharges her internal batteries?  What gives her inspiration?  What gives her life meaning?

We are both on the cusp of having most of our offspring either out of the house or pretty close to leaving the nest and flying on their own.  It is amazingly scary to think about, "What is going to fill my days and nights?  What am I going to do with myself?"  

This conversation with my friend has made me look at the black hole of my future.  That has been, frankly, terrifying.  Since I am determined to make lemonade, I have gone back to the beginning (a la 'Princess Bride'***).  Back to the solid rock that anchors me to this life.  My family.  From there I have chosen to start imagining what I could fill that black hole with instead of being terrified that it is there.  After all, I can fill it with anything I choose to.  I have decided that I need to look at it as if it were a blank canvas and I have only to decide at the moment, what color I want for the background.  

So after all the angst and struggling of the last few days, I can honestly say that I have only been able to get a feel for the color of paint I want to decorate this black hole.  To start off with, I'm going to start by painting my colors with words.  I'm going to design it with my own two hands and the imagination God gave me.  I'm going to succeed by playing to my strengths and weaknesses and do things that make a difference not only to others, but especially to me.  

I know I'm not ever going to bring about world peace by myself, but I think I can create it within the life I continue to make as I experience, learn and evolve.  I can carry my easel and paints within me to take out every time I come across something that I didn't realize was important to me so that I can add it to the landscape of my black hole.  When life throws in a smear of paint, before I change it I think I will need to first remember to step back and decide if I like the change, and if not, then dabble with my own palette until I have softened the edges or painted a petunia over it.  I now think the object will not be to finish the painting or decorating the space of my black hole, but to continue to look for things to add or change in it that will be meaningful to me.  That will give color to my world.

I've told you how I perceive this question.  I am very interested to know what any one else may think of this question and if it is as hard a question for them as it was for us.  Maybe we got the meaning of the question wrong?

QOTD:  "Without black, no color has any depth. But if you mix black with everything, suddenly there's shadow - no, not just shadow, but fullness. You've got to be willing to mix black into your palette if you want to create something that's real." ~Amy Grant

***Anyone who does not recognize this quote needs to go out RIGHT NOW and get the movie, 'The Princess Bride'!


  1. Hmmmm....I have absolutely no clue. Some days it might be wine?

    I've got to think on this...

  2. Many years ago when I seriously contemplated the pro's and con's of divorce I wrote out the good and bad in columns. Helps to put things in perspective. Can't claim it's been all roses... but I have no plans to file for divorce.

    The other things I thought about afterwards was what was worth fighting over and what wasn't. The professionals we deal with are always surprised to see my FSW not my Dh at appts... see, since we no longer fight about it, he has no final say. If he wants say, he comes, otherwise he stays home. Seems to work for us.

    Now... about Me. I've been trying for 2yrs to do something just for Mom with little success except finding a book and hiding. I'll tell you when I finally figure it out.

    B/c not only am I parenting on autistic, and one that is mostly "normal" child... I am now parenting my MIL... and I'm not impressed. Not upset.... just had hopes I would be coming up on 50 and the boys would be settled, not 40 when it happened.

  3. This makes me think of the movie "City Slickers" and determining that one thing.

    I believe that one thing changes over time, changes with life circumstances.

    For one month, my one thing was crocheting hats for my sister. There was nothing else.

    Billy Crystal's character caught and saved Norman. But, after the calf was safely cared for, Crystal's one thing obviously changed.

    It's good to know you'll have purpose at age 80, but what about now?

  4. Learning.

    There is always something new to learn. Always. When we lose interest in learning, we lose interest in life.

    The thing that constantly changes is what we learn and what we are interested in learning. Your interest may change from day to day, week to week, month to month, year to year... depending. You can be learning many things during the same period of time - of these things, there will be some you are more interested in sticking with than others.

    Take an interest in everything around you. If something captures your imagination, go with it,learn about it. It may be something you study for years or it may be something you're satisfied after finding out the bare minimum.

    For instance - at the moment I am currently learning: pilates, photography, running a professional organization, setting up a secure FTP server... to name a few.

    In the past I've tried learning things about: running, long bicycle trips (I don't even ride a bike well enough to enjoy this, but I read all kinds of stuff about it), painting, learning disabilities, needlework of various kinds, tai kwon do, tai chi, history (I learn this better in a classroom)... the list goes on and on. Remembering might be a bit difficult, but I have put forth effort in each of those areas to learn things. I may go back to some in the future.

    So there you go. That's what brings meaning to my life. YMMV. ;-)

  5. I agree with Teresa's answer...learning can add such color, and it never has to stop. Perceptions change as you change. Needs change. The meaning of life changes. Has to change to continue being rich and fulfilling.

  6. I think I like ABW's comment the best!

    but on a serious note, for me WORDS, writing them or reading them give me peace and make my life more fulfilling.

  7. First I want to thank everyone for their thoughts on this question. It's been very fascinating and I think I have now driven all my family and friends bonkers with this question. (So glad I have such patient family and friends!)

    ABW - I agree that some days it might be wine. :)

    farmwifetwo - I think writing helps me organize my thoughts and gives me a clearer picture of a given situation.

    Roses - "What about today?" is a good question. I don't think I could totally spend my day on the things that I need because I have too many responsibilities. But I could work at it a little everyday and then when a opportunity arises to do something I really want to do. To not let my obligations take away my opportunities. It's hard to remember that I have to take care of myself so that I can take better care of my family and responsibilities. It's a balancing act, I think.

    Teresa - You and Mrs. Who nailed this for me. After having thought about this for a while now, at the basic root of what gives my life meaning, is the opportunity to learn. To allow myself the time to explore and therefor learn.

    Mrs Who - A richer, more colorful life. I like that description!

    Meleah - I suspect we are a lot alike in that respect. I like to think that my words take a snapshot of memories and feelings in my life in a way that a camera might never be able to show.

    Thank you again, everyone for sharing. I think this might go down as being ONE of my favorite posts up til now.


Contents from normal neural synapsis goes here....
Should unnatural neural synapsis occur? Take one cherry chocolate Hershey Kiss and carry on.
Should NO neural synapsis occur? Take two full strength chocolate Hershey Kisses and
try again in the morning.