Life is…

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My soon-to-be 14 year old son has never been one to ease into a conversation with small talk. Such was the case when he came into my office and asked, “Mom, what is the meaning of life?”

How does one give an adequate answer to a question that philosophers have been wrestling with for centuries? I could have given him canned, Christianese answer, but not one that would satisfy his honest inquiry. And I didn’t feel right telling him the meaning of life is to love God and love people when I don’t always subscribe to that philosophy myself. I knew he was looking for a better explanation.

Many have attempted to explain what life is:

“Mama always said life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.” – Forrest Gump

“Life is a ticket to the greatest show on earth.” – Martin H. Fischer

“Life is like a coin. You can spend it any way you wish, but you only spend it once.” – Lillian Dickson

“Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.”

– William Shakespeare

“Life is an opportunity, benefit from it.
Life is beauty, admire it.
Life is bliss, taste it.
Life is a dream, realize it.
Life is a challenge, meet it.
Life is a duty, complete it.
Life is a game, play it.
Life is a promise, fulfill it.
Life is sorrow, overcome it.
Life is a song, sing it.
Life is a struggle, accept it.
Life is a tragedy, confront it.
Life is an adventure, dare it.
Life is luck, make it.
Life is too precious, do not destroy it.
Life is life, fight for it.”

– Mother Teresa

“Life’s a bitch and then you die.” – Nas (Nasir Jones)

“Life is a sexually transmitted disease and the mortality rate is one hundred percent.” – R. D. Laing

“Life is a foreign language; all men mispronounce it.” – Christopher Morley

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” – John Lennon

“Life is a long lesson in humility.” – James M. Barrie

“I hope life isn’t a big joke, because I don’t get it.” – Jack Handey

“Life is a great big canvas, and you should throw all the paint on it you can.” – Danny Kaye

“Life is nothing but a competition to be the criminal rather than the victim.” – Bertrand Russell

And the folks we rented a RV from over the weekend even put their two cents in:

"Life is a journey and only you hold the map."

When faced with the question of the meaning of life, answers reveal more about the person responding than they do about its real meaning. In answer to his question, I told my son he will probably spend a lifetime in an attempt to answer that for himself, and that if he figures it out I would be grateful if he shared his answer.

Funny, my favorite quote about life comes from “Author Unknown”. Probably because rather than answering the what of life it addresses the how. Which I suppose also says much about me.

“There are many things in life that will catch your eye, but only a few will catch your heart . . . pursue those.” – Author Unknown

What is the meaning of life?

And what does your answer say about you?

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16 Responses to “Life is…”

  1. Amy Nabors July 27, 2011 at 6:57 pm #

    Today’s answer would be ‘an emotional roller coaster.’ I could have a different answer next week.

  2. okiewife July 27, 2011 at 7:12 pm #

    Some days my life is like a demolition derby and I keep trying to dodge all the disasters coming at me. Thank God today was not one of them. Peace….ahhhh.

  3. Simply Darlene July 27, 2011 at 7:47 pm #

    Is there something in the air? My son asked me one of those unanswerable questions this morning. He racked my brain and still was not satisfied. I gave him the canned Christina answers, the simple homemade answers, and then I emailed our first pastor with the query cause he’s the one who still helps set me straight. Hoping he can do the same for the kiddo.

    I just walked all around your question without answering. Smooth, aye?

    Personally, I like Mr. Gump’s chocolate approach best.


  4. jake July 27, 2011 at 10:17 pm #

    So, I’m going to jump into inappropriate-town for just a minute. When I saw you tweet the title of this, I immediately thought, “My bitch”. So, there’s you most honest answer. That said, I also recently told someone that life was God’s way of beating the hell out of us slowly and steadily, until we died. One is kind of positive and weird, the other is completely negative but could be true. What does this say about me? I just don’t know….

    • katdish July 28, 2011 at 9:32 am #

      I think it says you’re honest, because life certainly feels that way at times.

  5. Lorarian89 July 28, 2011 at 2:15 am #

    The meaning of life for me in going back to nature by uniting with it. Thanks for a lovely post 🙂

  6. Candy July 28, 2011 at 8:47 am #

    I’d have given the 14 year old answer: “That’s for me to know & you to find out.” But I really dont know.

  7. Louise July 28, 2011 at 9:07 am #

    haha — love Candy’s answer.

    And your son is priceless.

    Which for me… when my daughters posed this question, was generally my answer.

    The meaning of life is priceless. You get to determine what price you pay.

  8. Jason Stasyszen July 28, 2011 at 1:18 pm #

    I don’t know what I would say, but I don’t think it would be hypocritical to say “love God, love people” just because we fall short. The real application and truth of that will impact us our entire lives if we allow it. That said, I do feel like the uniqueness of how God created each of us demands that our lives be expressed different ways. I could totally be fulfilling the meaning of my life and someone else look and see nothing (and vice versa). Knowing God and His heart, we unlock some of those mysteries. Good thought-provoking stuff, Kat. Thanks!

  9. floyd July 28, 2011 at 2:33 pm #

    My spider senses smell a trap… I have to say, your observation about our answer telling more about us than actually answering the question is profound.

    I do always try to shoot straight from the hip, although usually my answers aren’t near as clever as Jake’s.

    If I had to sum it up in a Readers Digest version, I’d say the meaning of life we may not understand 100% while here. Although I agree with Jason, we were created to love. The point I believe is that we are all here to make a choice, a conscious decision about where our soul will spend eternity. That may seem a bit on the simple side, but then that’s usually what us simpletons do…

    Leave it to you to ask the unanswerable question. I love it, nice job.

  10. Hazel Moon July 28, 2011 at 3:32 pm #

    The Bible would say, Love God and keep His commandments. The meaning of life, is to Know Jesus and all else is extra baggage, some good and some not so good.

  11. Sandra Heska Kin July 28, 2011 at 10:57 pm #

    Good answer, Kathy.

    Here’s another quote for your list from Francis Chan: “The point of your life is to point to Him.” (From Crazy Love)

    And when your son figures it out and tells you, will you pass it on?

  12. Myrrna July 29, 2011 at 9:52 am #

    Last year my life is kind a really hard,but what i do just focus in my work and i always think positive.

  13. sapir July 30, 2011 at 8:48 am #

    a beautiful question of children that disappears when they grow up. is there an obvious answer for it? must be! but nobody knows…

  14. karenzach July 31, 2011 at 12:51 am #

    We write our own meaning to life by the way we live it.

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