by the Rev. Peter Stimpson
QUESTION: Recently I woke up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, sat up straight, and realized that I’m getting older and will one day die. I can’t seem to stop worrying, the question that haunts me being: What is the meaning of my life? Does my life have a purpose?
ANSWER: We all wonder what the purpose of our life is. The issue is so big that it scares us, causing us to avoid facing it, the result being that one day this repressed issue comes frighteningly bubbling to the surface. As the answer is essential to determine how we shall pursue happiness, let us look at it honestly instead of ducking it. So, why were you born?
TO LIVE FOREVER? No. You can eat health foods until they come out of your ears, exercise to the point of making Arnold Schwarzenegger jealous, drink the standard 8 glasses of water a day, have more cosmetic surgery than Cher and Demi Moore combined, and 100 years from now, you will be dead.
TO BECOME RICH? No. Oh, don’t get me wrong. Material wealth is nice to have, but you must share it, and you cannot take it with you. I have often joked with people that their Lexus will not fit into their coffin with them, but their soul will, it being ironic how much time we spend on things that do not last. Think of all the riches that were buried with the Pharaohs to help them on the journey to the next life, only to have people in this life steal them.
TO BECOME FAMOUS? No. Read People magazine. Fame is fleeting. The adoration of the masses can leave as quickly as it comes, and can be falsely placed, based on performance instead of personality, and occasionally based on behavior that is more ignominious than renowned.
TO HAVE POWER? No. Again, that does not endure. Think of Alexander the Great, Caesar and Napoleon. They conquered, or tried to conquer, the world. But today, they are but a memory. Reflect upon Percy Bysshe Shelley’s 1817 poem, “Ozymandias”, where he contemplates on a decaying statue of Ramses II, contrasting the arrogant words of the ancient Pharaoh (“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings. Look on my works, ye Mighty and despair!”) with the sorry state and empty surroundings of his statue (“Nothing else remains, Round the decay of that colossal wreck”).
TO LOVE AND BE LOVED? Yes. You are defined by the choices you make. Each interaction with each person on each day of your life is an opportunity for you to grow or shrink, to love or hate. You can be kind or cruel, helpful or manipulative, cooperative or controlling.