“The fact that human beings know that we will die is rather remarkable. It means not only that we know we are alive, but also that we must wonder about what life means, what death means and whether any of it has any purpose or meaning.” — John Shelby Spong
I am often reading philosophy books. Even after Seminary, I am still looking for the answer to the thoughts expressed by Spong… Does my life have any purpose or meaning? I am alive.. Doesn’t that mean something? Anything? If so, what SHOULD I be doing with it?
Growing up in the United States, I was told my life mattered, that I could accomplish anything. Traveling around the world, I came to the realization that this assumption was not true for everyone. Lives do matter, but not everyone can realistically accomplish anything they want. There are borders, wars, famine, disease, ignorance, hatred, etc, which prevents individuals from having the opportunity to reach their full potential.
While living in Nepal, I had the opportunity to sit and breathe, to really question what I had learned in life and in Seminary. What I discovered is that I personally believe we put too much pressure on ourselves to produce in the West. A friend once told me we are human beings, not humans doing. We are flesh and blood, not machines built with a specific purpose for someone or something else.
In Nepal, many people can simply “be.”
What I mean by “being” is that they can sit at a corner and wait for the bus patiently. They can talk with a stranger while their food takes a few hours to make (especially if there is a closed border and no petrol). They can change their plans when you show up 2 days later than expected. Why?
Because they are more in touch with the here, the now. Instead of focusing on what our lives means to others, they are present. It seems even in Nepal this is rapidly changing with the arrival of cell phones and facebook, but still… it’s STILL. The people may have drama, but I do not see the same kind of obvious anxiety a lot of Americans express when something goes wrong. They can digest it without getting overly emotional and deal with the issue at hand.
These days, instead of trying to figure out WHY I am here, what purpose I serve, or what my life means, I reflect on the fact that I do exist. This life is a gift, not an obligation. This life is an opportunity, not a resume for my afterlife.
What does it mean for you to be here, be now? Today, take some time to be present, to look around and see what is in front of you. Instead of being lost in plans for tomorrow, get lost in the beauty that is today … and if possible, have some fun!!