It came to me today – the meaning of life. Well, it’s the meaning of my life, the reason I am here on this planet. It may not be the meaning of your life, but I suspect it is. It surprised me how simple and obvious it is, but I think that’s mostly because we’ve had so many people come before us to tell us this.
While I was out on the highway with the kids earlier today, I saw this bumper sticker on another car. It really spoke to me. There are several places in the bible – particularly in the psalms – where the term loving-kindness is used, and it has always felt very evocative to me. Loving-kindness. It feels like your mother’s lap. Like hot macaroni and cheese or mashed potatoes and gravy. It feels like a warm soak after hard work, or like slipping between crisp, freshly-washed sheets after a long day. It feels like burying your face into the warm fluffiness of a fresh towel after a hot shower. Loving-kindness. This is how God calls us – commands us, even – to treat each other: with loving-kindness.
About fifteen minutes later, I knew. Not with some blinding flash of insight; this was no road to Damascus for me. No, it was more like a warming from my core that spread through my entire body, like being snuggled in Mom’s lap or like eating those hot mashed potatoes. I knew what the meaning of life is, or at least, what the meaning of my life is. I know what I’ve been placed on this earth to do.
I’ve become pretty active on FriendFeed lately. FriendFeed is a social network (as Facebook and MySpace are social networks, but different, as they are from each other), and I find that it has become my “water cooler chat” now that I work from home. There are some rooms for chatting, and one that I frequent is called LoveFest, which contrasts with the BitchFest room. One of my friends posted in the LoveFest room last night:
I don’t know what I love really. I just love apparently. Wrong species. Heh.
I responded to him:
It’s good to love. Love extravagantly!
And that’s it. The meaning of life – or at least, of my life – is that simple. The purpose of my life is to love. The reason I am here is to love. I am here to love the people I come into contact with, the animals, the objects, the homes, the cars, the trees, the flowers, the birds. I am here to love you reading this post, to love the strange woman with the shopping cart who is always muttering to herself, to love the man who never has anything nice to say. I am here to love my ex – I did vow to love him until I die, after all – and to love my children, and to love my fiancé, and to love everyone else.
The best part? I think I do. I may not always act out of love. I am flawed after all, and I do get tired and cranky and angry and selfish. I don’t always listen attentively, and I don’t always hear, and I don’t always see. But I try. And when I come across someone who I find it difficult to love, I ask for help. I said recently that if I don’t get into heaven, it will be because I could never forgive the Fox network executives for what they did to Joss Whedon and Firefly. Well, that might be an oversimplification. There are other people I’ve had trouble loving and forgiving before. But overall, I think I’ve made my peace with most. Life is too short to hold grudges. There isn’t enough time or energy to waste it on hatred and anger and fear.
Love, my friends! Love extravagantly. Yes, it is a risk. Yes, when you pour out your love in that way, you are making yourself vulnerable to being hurt. Yes, you will be hurt. But there is always more love. There is always more love to fill you back up with, more love than you can possibly imagine, because you are loved extravagantly, too.