Tag Archives: meaning

Life matters

The-Starry-Sky-Backgrounds-PowerpointI think I began to realize while still a child that there was more to life than meets the eye when my mother would say things like, “When you hang shirts on the clothesline, don’t hang them by the shoulders…hang them by the hem.” Or when she decided that we wouldn’t be planting flowers from seeds anymore…from now on we’d buy them already blooming. Or when she would iron our bed sheets (!). Or when she would tell me and my sister Bertie not to walk around in our bare feet during a thunderstorm (even inside the house). None of it made any sense to me. It just didn’t seem to matter somehow.

I would, on warm summer evenings, lie in the cool grass in our yard and watch the millions and millions and millions of stars twinkling in the sky and think: How do they stay there, up in the sky, without falling? Where does the sky end, anyway? I would think myself into a tizzy over these metaphysical conundrums. Life itself fascinated me and I wanted to know all the whats, whys, ifs, and becauses. In comparison, the laundry, the flower seeds and the bare feet seemed awfully trivial.

Little did I imagine back then, so many, many years ago, that my whole life, in one way or another, would be an ongoing search for answers to the many questions I had about life. I read book after book on metaphysical, spiritual, and esoteric subjects. I joined various groups and organizations over the years, all the while not really making a whole lot of effort to put much of what I was learning into practice. And even when I did, I would desist after a few attempts. What I enjoyed was learning about “truth,” talking about it, thinking about it.

To make a long story short, it took me many decades before I finally realized that life itself was the truth—every piece of laundry, every flower seed, every bare foot was fraught with meaning. It all matters. Everything I’d been looking for was right under my nose—I just hadn’t been paying attention!

It’s really quite true that when the mind is occupied with thinking about things—even spiritual things—we’re not really present, so we’re missing the boat. At this late date, I’m more eager to savor what is, than to think about what it all means.

 

 

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What’s it all about?

When I was a little kid growing up in the country, I used to lie on my back in the yard and stare at the sky, trying to grasp the fact that it never ended. It was impossible, of course, and I believe that was when I started wondering about life: what it was, why I was here. What did it all mean?

My family wasn’t religious. We would sometimes go to a midnight service on Christmas at the Episcopal church because my mother’s family were Episcopalians, but it was really just to see the pretty decorations and listen to the music. And we’d go to the Congregational church sometimes on Easter to see all the nice clothes people were wearing.

But I wanted to know what God really was, if indeed there was such a thing as “God.” I was surprised to discover that none of my friends at school were interested in these existential matters. They seemed preoccupied with having fun, playing sports, and by the time I was in junior high, flirting. Not that I was disinterested in day-to-day things, but I just had this nagging feeling that there had to be more.

I remember when I was ten years old, I suddenly started to feel detached from everything, even from my own body. I would look at my hand or foot and think, “What is that?” It just didn’t seem to be “me.” I walked around feeling this way for nearly a month, barely speaking to anyone, and my mother thought I’d gone off the deep end. Eventually the feeling passed, but not the desire to know who I really was.

This search after truth is a thread that runs through my book, and actually ties everything together. Eventually I did find an answer, and it went way beyond what we ordinarily think of as “religion” or “God.”

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