Reflections on Life (Part 1)

In Meaning of Life on August 6, 2008 at 11:14 pm

The “Quest” does not give life meaning, but neither does inward direction. The quest is a group hug, seeks to understand meaning through group effort, pushes outward into life for answers to the question. Inward direction seeks meaning through personal, individual experience. Whether you believe in creationism, evolution, or modern physics, the basis for “discovering” meaning in life is a belief system.

But what if there is no meaning? Perhaps no meaning is the meaning. What if we are here to give meaning to life? Then each of us would construct our own definition in any terms we choose. These terms must only be consistent with other individual choices, and could be valid even though other choices coexist throughout the universe. Maybe this is what we mean by free will, which by definition is free choice.

  1. We can verbalize what we think we are, but the facts may not bear out the verbalization. The only fact of which I am certain is that I am uncertain. I refuse to drift. I need to do something, and at the same time, nothing. On some level I want to be reserved, but passionate. Being reserved minimizes mistakes, but somehow lacks commitment. Passion exposes. I may be afraid of that exposure?
  2. If we believe that all of our problems are the result of one specific person, event or issue, then we miss the point. Chances are that they are due to the belief that they are the result of one specific person, issue or event. Our attitude affects our reality. We can see this in others without much difficulty, but when it comes closer to home, it becomes a bit more cloudy.
  3. What I mean by this idea that we create our own reality is that because we act as though the belief were the reality, in effect it is. And we tend to seek out friends who reinforce our beliefs, with the result that we muddle through life without any real insights about where we are going and how we intend to get there. It’s our choice, of course. If we choose to muddle through life, no one has the right to say that we have made the wrong choice.
  4. If we work in demanding careers, then we get wrapped up in only one highly specialized aspect of life. We commit to understanding life through a distortion. Most of us have heard this expressed as, “a surgeon sees every solution in terms of cutting the patient.” We are what we do and what we have done. We must name what we have done as truthfully as possible – we cannot know where we are going in a cosmic sense until we know who and where we are.
  5. When I say that I am what I have done, I do not mean that getting caught up in activity is in any way a definition of me.  I mean what I have done in comparison with what I think I am or have done. It is likely that one cannot inflict his or her personality on others without closing doors and losing friends. But if one does not, then the wrong doors open and one either changes into something he is not, or loses something because he cannot change.  What he loses is him or herself – either way.
  6. Although I will always believe that military service helped me to grow, there are those who profess to have hated every minute of their enlistment (same experience, different belief system). If you hate a thing enough, it becomes a part of you. It becomes so much a part of you that you never shake it. That’s one reason why those who really hated it still wear parts of their uniform; it is also why they often go back … those who hated Vietnam the most, seem to be the ones who voluntarily returned. Like the moth to the candle.
  7. Hating prevents growth, which gets in the way of going forward. You must identify with your demons because they personify the rejection of something that is a part of you. The more you reject what you hate, the more it becomes a part of you. Only when you accept what you hate will you be able to let it go. Disillusionment is catharsis, even if it only results in a new illusion that is closer to the truth.
  8. We are all brought up to believe that we are just a little better than the next person – which ought to tell us something. The thing that is “better” is usually expressed as personality, or some extension to personality. But the measure of a person’s value can only be seen in totality if viewed in proportion to the number of enemies he or she has made because otherwise they are simply reflecting back parts of others. It is only when you are not a reflection that you become an individual because it is only then that we see your true uniqueness, i.e., that part which is your own personality. Of course, this can be carried too far. For example, if one is role playing and mistakes the role for the reality.
  9. Rebellion is a feeble means to represent ourselves as individual or unique, for we end up becoming like so many other “rebels” that it defeats the purpose. It is only through the natural expression of our personalities that we actually become individualized. On the other hand, I do not think we ever express our true selves to anyone, unless we wish to run the risk of ending our relationship.
  10. The whole notion of being “individual” suggests that two different people must have two different personalities. The “opposites attract” theory. And if each personality were truly different, this would result in difficulties in just getting along for any length of time. I suspect that this is why people who have known each other for a long time fight or argue, and why people “change out” their friends, sometimes many times, without really being aware of the underlying dynamics.

We can will all we want, Rollo May, but we are still impotent if we will an illusion. Not everyone must face his demons.

2008-0815 Random Thoughts Copyright ©2008 by Tad Laury Graham; adapted from my personal journals, dated November 1970.

  1. I found your site on technorati and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you down the road!

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