Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Meaning of Life: #Trust30 Day 1


Is it true that life has no meaning?  If so then I am destined to have spent 57 years for nothing.  This I will not accept.

Every living being has meaning. Even those who spend their lives trying to convince everyone that they have no meaning, that their lives are a jumble of nothingness trying to eek out some level of reward in this life. And that is meaningless.

Trying to grab everything one can for one’s self is the essence of meaninglessness.  For after we have obtained all the stuff, all the fame, all the power there is to obtain, we still have nothing.

When I was born I had great grandparents, grandparents, great aunts and uncles, aunts and uncles and of course my Mom and Dad.  I’ve been to so many funerals I can’t even count.  I guess it comes from being the oldest daughter of the oldest daughter of the oldest daughter. 

I was there when we divided my grandmother’s things and then my mother’s and father’s.  The things I have that are really meaningful to me are few.  The most important to me are my mother’s and grandmother’s wedding rings. I have a special necklace for them.  I wear it when I want to remember them.

In college I met a sweet little Chinese girl, Mae Ling.  She was beautiful, coal black hair, perfect features. She was having a hard time with the language and with her courses. My dorm father asked me to spend time just talking to her as a conversational English partner. And so we would walk and talk about everything and nothing.

One day when I went to look for her my dorm mother told me that she had gotten sick with a terrible headache. Doctors had sent her to her aunt and uncle’s house in California. She died the next day of a brain aneurysm at age 19.

This rocked my world.  I had experienced many deaths in my life to that point but they were all older adults, people who had lived long, full lives.  Mae Ling was young. She was my age. 

I would lie in bed at night and watch the gas stove in my room come on.  It had flames of a sort that would flicker in the front when it came on.  It reminded me of the flames of hell.  Did I know for sure that I would go to heaven when I died? Maybe I would go to the eternal flames of hell. How would I know.  For two weeks I tossed and turned every night, questions coursing through me. OF course I was a Christian and had accepted Christ when I was 7 but how did I know for sure.  I need someone to tell me the truth.

That someone had to be my Daddy.  I knew he would shoot straight with me.  When I arrived home for Thanksgiving break, I wasted no time.  Daddy was sitting at the red topped, chrome sided kitchen table. 

“I want you to give me proof that there is a heaven and that I will go there when I die.”

Of course, he reached for his Bible. But I put my hand on his.  “I know the Bible scriptures. I want you tell me that you KNOW it for sure, beyond a shadow of a doubt.”

He sat back in his chair.  I sat forward in mine, leaned into his wisdom.  It didn’t come quickly.  He thought for a long while and then he put his hand on mine and looked deep into my eyes.

“If you want tangible proof, I can’t give it to you.  I haven’t been there.  No one on earth has physically been there.”

He paused for a moment, closed his eyes and leaned back in his chair.  “But if you believe what the Bible says about heaven then you have to believe everything written in the Bible.”

He opened his eyes, picked up his Bible, leaned forward, tipped my chin up and looked me in the eyes again.  “You have to live your life based on these words.”

I looked down at my Nehru-collared shirt, bellbottom jeans with the embroidered peace symbol.  “But how do you know it’s true?”

“What do you have to lose?” he said.  “The worst that can happen is that you live your life with meaning and purpose and then it ends.  The best is that every word is true. In either case you have lived your life for something that matters. You have lived with meaning.  Many people never grasp hold of that.”

That day I chose to live my life with meaning.

This post is part of the #Trust30 Project. #Trust30 is an online initiative and 30-day writing challenge from TheDominoProject that encourages you to look within and trust yourself. Learn more at RalphWaldoEmerson.me

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