On the Meaning of Life and Other Vague Notions

creek fishin'“What’s the point?”

“The point of what?”

“You know…  the point…. the meaning of life.  Why are we here?”

Margaret laughed as she tied on a crisp new apron.  “Well, it’s a bit of a moot point now, isn’t it?  Besides, I’m not sure we’re supposed to know the point, Gladys, dear.  I was always too busy wiping noses, folding laundry, preparing meals and helping with homework to have even a moment to myself, let alone any spare time to think about the meaning of life.  What do you think, Basil?”

“I don’t know either, Margaret.”  Basil reached for his ever-present thermos of coffee.  “For a long time I thought it was finding a decent job and then I figured it must be supporting my family, raising decent kids and being a good husband.  Now, I don’t know.”  Basil put down his cup of coffee, “Hey, Jon.  What do you think?”

 

Jon rolled up on his skateboard, “‘Bout what?”

“About the meaning of life, son.  What do you think it’s all about?”

Jon stomped on one end of his board and grabbed the other end that popped up, “I don’t.”

Gladys walked around a stone and sat next to Basil.  “You don’t think about it?  Really.  That’s interesting.  What do you think about?”

Jon sat down next to Gladys and Basil.  “Well, I don’t think about much, really.  I mean, when I didn’t have to think about what they told me to think about in school, I was on my board.  I was happiest on my board, not thinking.  I was free.  I was me.  I wasn’t having to be anybody but me.  Does that make sense?”

 

Margaret set her pie server down.  “That really is interesting.  He was happiest not thinking.  Did you hear that?  He was happiest doing the thing he loved and not thinking.  That reminds me of a few sparkling moments from my life – the ones where I was present in that moment, totally engrossed in doing what I loved to do.  For me it was baking pies, of course.  But I’d forget about laundry or what time I had to get dinner on the table, and I’d be my happiest me, baking a pie.”  Margaret brushed her hair back on her forehead, smoothed her apron, and sighed, “I miss those moments.”

Gladys laughed, “I know what you mean!  For me it was dancing.”  Just then, Gladys sprang to her feet and pirouetted around a stone.  “It wasn’t about who I was dancing with, or where I was dancing, it was the act of dancing.  It was like I was the best version of me when I was dancing.  And you are so right, Jon.  When I was dancing, I wasn’t thinking about anything.  Nothing at all.”  Gladys sighed and ran her finger down the crease of her skirt, “What about you, Basil?  When were you happiest?”

Basil twisted the cap on his thermos.  “Fishing.  It’d have to be fishing.  Especially in the fall.  The leaves were turning, the creek ran clear, and the sun was warm, but not too hot.  I wasn’t thinking about the wife or the kids, or what I had to do at the job on Monday.  I was alone with worms, a pole and a creek.  And coffee.  Yes, I’d say it’d have to be fishing.”

 

Margaret laughed, “Maybe that’s what it’s all about, Gladys.  Maybe the meaning of life is to be in the moment, being happy with what it is that you love to do most, but most importantly, not thinking about the meaning of life.”

Jon stood up and set a foot on his skateboard.  “I like that, Margaret.  That’s right.  Don’t think about it too much, and just have fun.”  With that, Jon road off on his board, following the path that wound through grave markers on down to the hill that marked the edge of the cemetery.

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3 comments

  1. Jon is a smart kid…

  2. Pat,

    I see many kids living in the moment, happy doing what they love, without agonizing over the meaning of life.

    Then they grow up.

    sigh.

  3. Hi Jesse,

    This reminds me of St. Francis’ thought to live in the present: this moment. Finding a passion and living in the present are good goals!! I need to work on both.

    Have a passionate day!! ; )

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