On the meaning of life


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It is unavoidable, we are all going to die someday – that we know. Ever wondered what “life” is all about? I dare say, we all have different viewpoints of life, don’t we?  Whichever your outlook is, however, we all must concede to the fact that we are here on this earth for a startlingly short period of time.

The medical community is always working on ways to prolong our lives.  As we speak, the average life-expectancy of people living in America is approximately 78.7 years.  Now, consider this, the earth has been in existence for millions of years. Our passing-by for seven or eight decades is then as brief as the blinking of an eye – maybe less.  I cannot even find a true measure of comparison which would accurately describe the fleetingness of our transition – magnificently pointing out to our insignificance – even the most adept amongst us.

As of this writing, the world population is 7.7 billion people. Imagine, how many people have passed-by this world before us – the enormousness of the numbers is such that a right answer becomes almost impossible to ascertain with any degree of accuracy – regardless.

This narrative, however, is not meant to be, in any way, a lecture in anthropology. The point I am really trying to make is, simply that, in the bigger scope of things, we are all inconsequential, aren’t we?  As such, I must ask the question:  What is our purpose in life? What are we here for?  What is this all about?

For the most part, all but a few us, will leave this earth, with our presence and our departure gone unnoticed – albeit remembered exclusively, by a remaining few for a very brief period at that.  Even the scarce number of humans who have left some imprint in history, with time, their memories are all but a historical “reference”. Others, the less fortunate, eventually leave without any acknowledgment of their existence.  Be that as it may, however, with the passing of time, we are all bound by a common bond of inconsequentiality.

Notably, in the unending search for the meaning of life, mankind has, for the most part, leaned onto religion as the ultimate source for giving “life” some form of relevance. Vis-à-vis, most all religions, cults, faith and denominations, have, as their root-cause, imparting mankind with a reason for their existence, as well as a prophetic sense of the aftermath, both meant to appease the way we conduct ourselves during our brief stay here – never mind that, very few of us really make an honest attempt to live by the precepts and cannons of “goodness” set forth  by these religious persuasions.  Matter of fact, quite the opposite. If you think about it, most individuals in mankind live by the wrong code of ethics.

A good friend of mine just recently sent me the copy of an essay written in his death-bed by iconic mega-millionaire, Steve Jobs, chairman, chief executive officer and co-founder of Apple Inc. As you know, Jobs past away at age 56 after losing his battle with pancreatic cancer. In his essay, Jobs writes: “I realize that all the recognition and wealth that I took so much pride in have paled and become meaningless in the face of my death.”  Like Jobs, I too have had some very close friends, who were able to achieve substantial financial success in life, only to pass prematurely.

While I find nothing wrong with succeeding in life, I do find a lot wrong in the way some of us go about reaching success. I think many of us confuse motivation with greed. I think many of us are overwhelmed by selfishness – some by envy and a jaundiced eye for what others have.  I personally have had some dreadful experiences throughout my life.  I have been betrayed by some who dared called themselves my lifetime friends.  I have even seen families torn apart by avarice which makes me wonder if we all really understand our purpose here.  Honestly, I feel sorry for those who have betrayed me.  Thank God, I have learned to trade anger for sorrow.

So…to the greater point of my story today.  Admittedly, we live in a competitive society, where Darwinism, survival of the fittest, is the foremost priority and measure of success.  As part of our culture, we are trained since infancy to compete with our fellow-men. If you think about it, we are in a constant state of competition for just about anything and everything.

For most of us, success in life is measured strictly in terms of wealth and the acquisition of material things. At times, we don’t really pay much attention on how success was attained as we mistakenly even praise those who’s success came at the expense of their fellow-humans. Matter of fact, I see many of us paying homage, adulation and reverence to those who portray wealth while, ironically, disenfranchising the righteous – the virtuous.

Honestly, I think many of us live very hypocritical lives, if only because we fail to realize and understand our purpose for being here as well as the “brevity” of our stay.  I dedicate this narrative to all of you out there who seem to have forgotten that we can’t really take anything with us, can we?  Some ancient Egyptians sought to bury their dead with all kinds of material things, in order to make their afterlife more comfortable; they even mummified their dead in an all-out effort to preserve their bodies in as close a state as possible as when they were alive – all to no avail.

The moral of my narrative today is but a friendly reminder to many of you, the greedy, the envious, the avaricious, the egocentrics, that amassing riches is but a temporary short-lived illusion, justified if legitimately acquired through righteous endeavors – contemptible and disgraceful if attained unethically – at the expense, exploitation and profiteering of our fellow-men.  I strongly contend that we can all be successful in our short stay without the need to estrange and alienate others. We would all be better served by the realization and understanding of the ephemerality of this state we know as “life”.  In doing so, we may inadvertently come to the awareness that it is not worth it to go about this life doing wrong onto others for the sake of a short-lived delusion of grandeur.

May I also remind all that the true measure of greatness as we go through life, should only be in terms of your righteousness.  As much as we know that our legacies are all short-lived, as much as they can be everlasting if we begin to live our lives virtuously instilling goodness in our progenies as a means of prolonging goodwill in  mankind – that is, in the end, what we really take with us; that is, in my humble opinion what life is really all about, however understanding our stay here is magnanimously inconsequential regardless of the wealth amassed.


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