What's the Point of Life?


Take life as you find it, but don't leave it that way

After work, the four members of the marketing team went to the pub for their weekly get-together. Unlike the past, today's subject was a heavy one. Instead of talking about sports, politics, or women, they broached the subject of LIFE. Casper started. "You know," he said, "life is nothing more than a sexually transmitted disease, and a terminal one at that."

"You're right," Xavier chimed in, "all life is, is a substance that temporarily prevents our bodies from rotting." On a more benign note, Spencer yawned and said, "Life is something you do when you can't sleep."

While pushing the frame of his eyeglasses firmly on his nose, Errol added, "Here's what I think. A person who works hard and accomplishes a great deal meets the same fate as one that doesn't, for they both die. So, what's the point of it all if it all ends in death?"

Those who, like Errol, can't help wondering what the point of it all is are focusing on the wrong thing, death. For if you focus on life, the answer immediately becomes clear. The point of it all is to live a life of exuberance, joy, excitement, and wonder. The point of life is to experience the excitement of discovery, joy of achievement, and wonder of mystery. The point is to take delight in the surprises that constantly come our way.

Simply put, the point of life is to enjoy it; that is, to live IN JOY. Since we cannot give away what we do not have, it is important that we meet our own needs first. Ultimately, however, the reason for enjoying life is to make the lives of others enjoyable. For as George Eliot (pseudonym of Mary Ann Evans Cross, 1819 ~ 1880) wrote, "What do we live for; if it is not to make life less difficult to each other?"

Adam Lindsay Gordon (1833 ~ 1870) expressed similar sentiments in verse:

"Life is mostly froth and bubble,
Two things stand like stone,
Kindness in another's trouble,
Courage in your own."

The point of it all is to make a point, to have a reason for being, to be a point of light by making a difference. In other words, the purpose of life is to live a life of purpose. Usually, we don't have to waste time trying to discover our life purpose because it is not to be found, but to be created by us.

If your personal calling is not obvious to you, be still for a moment and ask your inner wisdom for guidance. Franz Kafka (1883 ~ 1924) explains: "Life's splendor forever lies in wait about each one of us in all its fullness, but veiled from view, deep down, invisible, far off. It is there, though, not hostile, not reluctant, not deaf. If you summon it by the right word, by its right name, it will come."

What's the point of being successful and having plenty to live on if one has nothing to live for? So, pick a cause. It is belief in something greater than you and enthusiasm in pursuing it that makes life worth living.

Some complain about the minor irritants and misfortunes that come their way. But so-called 'problems' are blessings for they provide the contrast that allows us to enjoy life. For example, Canadians love to escape from their harsh winters by visiting Florida and Hawaii. They find the contrast in weather delightful. So it is with the rest of life. The reason we enjoy the good times so much is because of the bad times. So, learn how to accept the bad with the good. Or, as Roger C. Anderson put it, "Accept that some days you're the pigeon, and some days you're the statue."

Others complain that life isn't fair, but that hardly is the case. After all, rich or poor, male or female, young or old, we all receive the same allotment of 86,400 seconds a day. That's fair isn't it? If some choose to use that time wisely and others choose to squander it, that's not the fault of life, is it? Also, what can be fairer than reaping what we sow?

Besides, as Lewis L Dunnington explains, "What life means to us is determined, not so much by what life brings to us as by the attitude we bring to life; not so much by what happens to us as by our reaction to what happens." Thomas L. Holdcroft shares an equally valid view, "Life is a grindstone. Whether it grinds us down or polishes us up depends on us."

Some believe in life after death, but what about life after birth? What's the point of life if you're not really living it? You probably agree with Philip Larkin (1922 ~ 1986) who wrote, "Life has a practice of living you, if you don't live it." So, get involved with life by doing and experiencing as much as possible. After all, not to engage with life is not to live at all. Isn't it better to die alive than to live dead?

Because of the brevity of life, the time to start living is now. Here are three quotes to forcefully bring home this message: 1. "For what is your life? It is even a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away (James 4:14). 2. "This life of separateness may be compared to a dream, a phantasm, a bubble, a shadow, a drop of dew, a flash of lightning." (Buddha, 568 ~ 488 BC) 3. "When one subtracts from life infancy (which is vegetation), sleep, eating and swilling, buttoning and unbuttoning - how much remains of downright existence? The summer of a dormouse." (Lord Byron, 1788 ~ 1824)

Yes, life is like a taxi. Whether you're an active participant or not, the meter keeps ticking. But don't despair, for today you still have 100% of the remainder of your life left. You still have time to act. You still have time to make the right choice. And while we're on the subject of choices, remember that "There is a choice you have to make, In everything you do. And you must always keep in mind, The choice you make, makes you." (author unknown)

So, don't take life for granted. Take it with gratitude. And leave it in better shape than you found it. Do you want to guarantee a successful life and peaceful death? Then follow the advice of Christian Fürchtegott Gellert (1715 ~ 1769) who wrote, "Live as you would have wished to live when you come to die."

© Chuck Gallozzi
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