Wednesday, June 4, 2014

empty and meaningless

OK, just take a moment and ponder this: what if life is, in its essence, empty and meaningless.

Had enough time? Take a moment more.

So, what if, just like a possibility, life is, deep down, empty and meaningless?

If you haven't run screaming from your computer at this point, let me point out what a liberating thing that would be. What if one of my favorite bumper stickers--"SHIT HAPPENS"--is on target and correct?

Know what that means? It means that the 'meaning' of life doesn't exist in any way in the stuff that happens. Meaning--such as it is--doesn't come from the world or from the passage of time or from the events of life...'meaning' is what we say it is.

Can you begin to see how liberating that could be?

I used to be terrified of flying. One night, before I was to fly the next day, I was telling my friend, Tom, how scared I was already, knowing that in 15 hours I'd be getting on an airplane.

Tom asked, "what does it feel like?"

And I said, "I'm terrified, scared to death, horrified!!!"

And Tom said, calmly, "no, that's not what I mean. I mean, tell me about the actual feelings in your body, not what you call time."

So I went through the litany: tight butt, racing heart, dizziness, muscle tension. The whole thing.

And Tom said, calmly (as Tom said all things), "ok, why don't we call those feelings excitement?"

It was one of the biggest breakthroughs of my life. From that moment on, my feelings were transformed. They didn't 'change'--oh, no, whenever I get on a plane my butt is tight, my heart is racing and I'm a tad dizzy with tension in my muscles. All that has happened is that I came to understand that the 'meaning' about those feelings is mine to assign and name.

So, I name it "excitement" and I love to fly.

It is really liberating and transforming to realize that the 'meaning' of what happens comes, not from 'what happens' but from what we say about it.

"Meaning" comes from us and we are free to re-name it and embrace it differently in a way that makes a difference for the better.

So, you could either call it 'anger' or 'whimsy'. You could either call it 'envy' or 'appreciation'. You could either call it 'fear' or 'astonishment'. It IS what you name it.

Just something to ponder. That's all....

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some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.