Sometimes, I sit back and review the goings-on of a normal day, and I begin to wonder: what’s it all for?
The crazy miscommunications, the mood swings, the hamster-on-a-conveyor-belt feeling of never having enough time. Step back and wonder, what’s the point of it all?
It’s a really fine existential conversation for a rainy Wednesday morning. If you think about it, we are born out of love or desire or need or all three, and in the beginning we simply beckon for our needs to be met. And they are met.
People dote on us simply for who we are, and we gulp it down. And at some point, we start to realize there are rules and parameters, not everything we do makes others coo and smile, and we start to question our place in the world in very simple ways.
Later, when we get to school, surrounded by others, we decide whether to follow rules and behave or strike our own tune and be cut down for it. And the happenings on the playground and in the music room shape our future.
When we are left out of the kickball game or the other team calls us out when we really know we’re safe, we begin to question whether we want to return to school the next day, whether those kids on the grassy field are really our friends.
This continues throughout our lives, really. We change schools and accomplish goals, we move out and move in, we think we have it all figured out until we know that we don’t, and all the while, we’re still that hamster on a wheel.
What is the point of it all?
We go to school to graduate and move on to higher education and eventually claim a career in which we will slog away day in and day out to be able to afford vacations and new clothes and holiday dinners. We’ll fall in and out of love with the hope that one of these days, the love will last, and then we build stories around the what-ifs and the I-can-picture-the-future.
It’s a progression. For me, I didn’t stop to consider the meaning of it all and my purpose on this planet until I was approaching 40 – so many years on auto-drive, free-wheeling according to how it felt!
But alas, that is the human condition.
When we start to ponder the meaning of it all, that’s when it almost feels too late. The hair is thinning and the middle thickening and we have so many memories that we begin to wonder if we are lost.
At a certain point, the desire to see the world and experience life overrides the need to earn a living and make your mark, but if you can’t afford it, you sit and lament all the possibilities just past your reach.
And one day, it’s over. You’re old and being cared for, and you remember more than you think in the moment. I’m thinking of my late grandmother’s visits, with her carefully arranged Ziploc baggies of raisins and M&M’s and a single lollipop, each counted out fairly for all the great-grandchildren.
I remember her sweatshirt with the names of the great-grandchildren embroidered on the front – every time a new baby arrived, she’d send it back for a name to be added. She wore that, and her silver charm necklace, one child-shaped charm for every great-grandchild, with pride and purpose.
When she died, her legacy was the full house of teeming cousins and relatives remembering how wonderful she was. She created a whole world in her lifetime. In my opinion, an incredible accomplishment.
The Jewish tradition believes that when you kill one person, it’s as if you have killed an entire world, for all the possibilities of future generations no longer possible. Perhaps our purpose on this earth is simply to be here and to add to the discourse, to create new lives that go on beyond us and continue legacies and traditions and heritage long into the future, a distant speck on an unseeable horizon.