Welcome to our series called Co-Founders’ Corner! These are posts by either of our two Here for the Girls Co-Founders, Rene Bowditch or Mary Beth Gibson. Enjoy these (sometimes funny, sometimes serious, always interesting) reflections on life!
Musings About Meaning
Since the beginning of time, humans have contemplated the meaning of life. So picture this – it’s a crisp, cool night, and a group of friends have gathered beside a roaring fire after a long, hard day. Donning animal pelt loin cloths and gnawing on roasted meat, they gaze up at the twinkling stars, and they wonder… so why are we here anyway? We run around chasing wooly mammoths all day long while saber tooth tigers chase after us. What’s the point of it all?
Fast forward through the millennia to the present. So now picture this – it’s a crisp, cool night, and a group of friends are relaxing by the fire pit after a long, hard day. Decked out in animal print LulaRoe leggings and sipping on chardonnay… or something, they gaze at the twinkling stars, and they wonder… so why are we here anyway? We run around chasing after things all day long while our boss/children/spouse chase after us. What’s the point of it all?
Everything has changed, and nothing has changed. As human beings, we are compelled to find meaning in our existence. There are two questions really. The first is very complex – what is the meaning of life – and I have to tell you, I have absolutely no idea and no illusion that I ever will. That is way over my paygrade. So I will leave it to the people with lots of letters after their names who are way smarter than I am to tackle that one.
That leaves the second question then – one I that I do have the capacity to tackle – what is the meaning of my life? My time on this earth is limited, so what the heck am I supposed to be doing with my life? Does what I do even matter?
Some of you may have heard of the poem entitled the Dash. The reader’s digest version is this: On a tombstone is the date of birth and the date of death and in between is a dash. It is what we do with the dash that matters.
When I was younger I felt all this pressure to figure out what to do with my dash. I was on a mission to solve the mystery of the meaning of life because I couldn’t squander my dash!
I used to think that my life would be meaningful if …
If I had a husband who adored me
If I had children to care for
If I had a successful career
If I had hobbies I enjoyed
If I had tons of friends
If I had lots of stuff like clothes, and jewelry, and a house and car
So many ifs!
I ended up with all of those things– my adoring and adorable husband, three amazing sons, three fulfilling careers so far, a variety of enjoyable hobbies, lots of loving friends – and the stuff – way too much stuff. And I am grateful for all of it. Very grateful.
But is that meaning of my life? To have all of those things? No. I am so much wiser now.
Paradoxically, the harder we try to find the meaning of life, the more it eludes us. It is in experiencing life, reveling in the moments, that the elusive is exposed.
In the grand scheme of things, what I do won’t go down in the history books and survive through the millennia. Nonetheless, what I do matters very much to the people who share this time and place with me.
We do have limited time on this earth, and each of us is on a life journey. We are all learning, growing, struggling, seeking, succeeding, failing, loving, losing. Life is full of beautiful moments, and it is also full of pain. It is the contrast of emotions that allows us to appreciate the richness of our experiences. It is the people in our lives who have the ability to influence, for better or worse, how we feel about our experiences.
The meaning of my life, is to be the person who:
elicits a smile on someone’s face
extends a kindness to a stranger
comforts someone who is scared or lonely
celebrates another’s success
sheds tears with a friend
respects each person’s humanity and the need to be loved
The meaning of my life is to make other people feel meaningful. It is simple. Not easy, but simple. I am not always good at it. It takes intention and effort. But you know what? Every morning when I wake up, I have any number of opportunities to fulfill my meaning.
It’s a work in progress. I am a work in progress. But when all is said and done, when the final date is etched in stone, my dash will have mattered if I have enriched other’s life experiences.
So, if any of you want to explore for themselves, the age-old question “what is the meaning of my life,” I invite you to join me for an evening by my fire pit, gazing at the stars. You don’t have to wear anything animal print, and barbecue mammoth won’t be on the menu, but I can hook you up with a glass of chardonnay… or something.
Mary Beth Gibson