Each of us from time to time stands alone beneath the stars, longing to know our place in the universe. There is something about the majesty of endless dark strewn with tiny lights that provokes both awe and self-reflection.
Who am I? Why am I here? What is the meaning of life?
These are expressions of humankind’s deepest longing. It’s as if the universe, expanding for billions of years, evolved creatures that could speak its most profound questions. Perhaps we who ask are the ones tasked with finding the answers. Perhaps to search for meaning is what we evolved to do.
Perhaps the answer to our search for meaning is, ultimately, not in service to the meaning of life but to the meaning we each make from our own individual lives.
Yet our meaning-making is often overwhelmed by the sheer busyness of our lives. Survival, success, relationships good and bad, security, insecurity, errands and what’s-for-dinner. In all of this activity, who we are and the meaning we hope to make can get lost.
Until we stand under the stars again, and look up, and remember the questions.
In February 2017, somewhere along the timeline of 13.5 and 13.6 billion years into the life of the universe, we are in a moment when there is an urgency to who we are and the meaning we hope to make. Our lives, after all, may only be brief sparks on that timeline; but in the here and now, our decisions about identity and purpose matter to many others who are less free, less empowered, less well-resourced than anyone reading these words.
Identity is shaped by culture, upbringing, experience. Yet in that moment beneath the stars we also may perceive choices. As we make the meaning of our lives, may we choose with wisdom, passion, and commitment.
And may our lives speak.