the meaning of life


A few months ago, my dad showed me an old LIFE magazine issue from the 90s.

It was titled The Meaning of Life and the writers (quite literally) went around asking people what they thought the meaning of life was. There were various different answers and pictures that went along with each caption. Some were from scientists, others from rabbis. There were different perspectives and ideas of what people thought were the most important. Ideas like reaching your goals, devoting your life to God, and finding the love of your life. But one really stuck out to me:

“Sometimes the most valuable thing you can offer is not an answer but your presence, your being there to share the feeling of loneliness, your being there while someone goes on breathing in and out, whether it matters or not…Having shared in these moments of loneliness, I come to a sort of conclusion that the answer, if there is one, is tied up with human compassion.

That’s it.

We are here to be there for someone else.” 

I never really understood why I loved this quote so much, until I realized how close it hit to home. It was the days when my mom would cry and I’d go to my room and listen to “Her Diamonds” on repeat because it was exactly how I felt. It was the days when her hair fell out and she would show me how much was gone. It was the days when I would wake up and be hit with the sinking feeling that this was not a dream. On those days, it was hard to have an answer. It was hard for me to sit there, watching the person I love most in the world suffer. It was even harder for me to sit there knowing that I couldn’t do anything to make it better. There were no answers, no magically crafted pieces of advice.

But I offered my presence. I would take my mom’s hands in mine and let her cry it out. I would lie down in silence next to my mom. Sometimes I felt like I needed to be doing more. Other times I could see just how much it meant to her.

We, as people, endure so much. We break. We dream. We heal. All the good and all the bad, it can be a lot for one person to carry. We have to share it. We have to open up and let others in. Then we have to turn around and be there for others. It’s what it means to be alive.

There are so many people who are hurting in this world. We need each other. We need to care for each other. We need to help each other feel a little less alone. Check up on those you love. Reach out to old friends. Meet someone new. Help a stranger. Life is beautiful and when we share it with others, we are getting at something deeper.

So with my first post in 2018, I wanted to leave you with this reminder: be there for people.

Because life is all about the love we give and those we share it with.

16 thoughts on “the meaning of life

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