I’m a sucker for impossible questions to answer. Take the question that each of us ask at least once in our lifetime: “What is the meaning of life?” What an impossible question to answer. Yet, people continue to try telling others not only what their lives mean, but how they should live.
Last night, I dove into The Power of Myth with Bill Moyers and Joseph Campbell. During the discussion of “Myth and the Modern World,” Moyers begins talking about how we as human beings need to tell our stories, discovering who we are in the process. How Campbell responds is not only beautiful, but also insightful about life being so much more than just meaning, it’s living fully alive:
People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances within our innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive. That’s what it’s all finally about, and that’s what these clues help us to find within ourselves.
Two things stand out: First, that we are seeking life experiences that echo within our “innermost being” or soul; and second, that we feel so alive, we are outside of ourselves.
Life Experiences Beyond The Mundane
Every morning, I wake up and start having life experiences. I make coffee, I eat breakfast, I shower, I work, I talk with my friends and my wife, along with a myriad of other things that are fairly consistent day to day. While these are life experiences, do they “resonate” in my innermost being? Not even close. In fact, most days I feel absolutely numb.
A soul-echoing life experience is about capturing the unexpected in your hands, recognizing it for what it is, and allowing it to push you into tomorrow, not being stuck in today.
It’s an unexpected phone call from someone I don’t know thanking me. It’s a glimpse of happiness in the eyes of someone who has every right to be miserable. It’s doing something you love, even if it isn’t perfect. It’s breaking outside of your comfort zone. It’s tearing down the walls of compartmentalization for a moment, allowing a momentary bombardment of life.
As Campbell said, “the rapture of being alive” is about being fully alive. So alive that you are not only outside yourself, but so alive that you even transcend the physical aspects of life. What a journey to go from simply experiencing day-to-day life to being fully alive. It almost seems as impossible as defining what the meaning of life is.
Thankfully, we have a choice. We can choose to succumb to the monotony, pain, and struggles of life, being the puppet of an angry god, throwing out lightning bolts of defeat. Or we can choose to journey to be fully alive, learning how to be the puppet master of our own existence, experimenting, loving, and hoping that what is to come very well might be.