Have you ever played a game without knowing the point? Probably not, because after-all, that would be, well...point-less...wouldn't it? The crazy thing though, is that so many of us live our very lives without thinking very deeply about the point of life, and I would like to propose that the point of life is to follow our joy and inspiration, and to be of value to others. That's it.
One of the plays that made an impression on me as a youth was Death of a Salesman by playwright Arthur Miller. In this play, the lead character Willy Loman is obsessed with his legacy. Being the best, being well known, and having many people attend to his funeral was Willy's definition of a winning life. In one scene of the play Willy is talking to a friend about what his funeral will be like (and the impression it will make on his son who he is having problems getting to respect him). In that dialogue he says to his friend Ben: "...that funeral will be massive! They'll come from Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire! All the old-timers with the strange license plates -- that boy will be thunderstruck, Ben, because he never realized -- I am known! Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey -- I am known, Ben, and he'll see it with his eyes once and for all." To Willy, that would be how he would eventually gain the respect of his son and validate his life's work.
I can't help but notice that when we look back through history, only a very small percentage of people are truly remembered and revered by the masses. So if that's our measure of success in life, good luck! At the end of the day, what is most important is what kind of character we lived our lives with, how attentive we were to our own emotions and inspirations, and how resolutely we served and guided others along the way. And how we honor our own lives, by using the talents and gifts we are inspired and endowed with is what usually feels best to us.
We can know that we are living significant lives by the fruit that we bear. What fruit is it we're looking for? Two kinds. One is character based fruit, such as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control in our lives. Another is actual fruit, as in, how have we honored ourselves each day, and what we do to help others live a better life.
Football can also be a good example if Broadway isn't your thing. While the quarterback's and marquis position players typically get all the glory, almost all good teams are built on great offensive lineman, most of whom very few fans know their names. No great quarterback, running back, or receiver could be great without a great offensive line in front of them. I liken our life's work to the work these linefolk do. Certainly their coaches and teammates know their names, and value them greatly, even if the public at large is somewhat oblivious about their contribution. These guys do what they love to do day-in and day-out, and rarely gain the glory, but they give it their all each day and are the backbone of any winning team!
I suggest that when we die, our value as reflected by the people of the world will not be all that important. And the size of our funeral may be irrelevant. Because we are in no position to judge the value of a life on that level. But rather, what may be most important is how well we did at the blocking and tackling of real life. How did we play the game of loving and caring for ourselves and all creation? How well did we honor the sacredness of our own lives by not squandering our opportunities and inspirations? I would suggest that is the point and purpose of life if there ever was one :-)
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by Eric Alexander Crawford
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