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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