Friday, February 19, 2010

Why am I here?

Many people find a measure of comfort in the belief that life has intrinsic meaning, that there is a "plan" for each of us. That's understandable. After all, if we're not here for some identifiable reason, then we must be here for no reason, right? And from that premise it follows that if there is no reason for our existence, there can be no purpose to our lives, either.

Faulty logic, I think. That view dumps us into a tight crevasse between conventional religious belief and conventional non-belief: it's all God the Interventionist or it's all random chance. Neither of those explanations ever entirely satisfied me, so some years ago I began exploring this idea: What if the purpose of our existence - through whatever means that purpose arises - is to MAKE meaning? It's one of the things we humans seem to do best. We're makers and shapers, not just with our hands but with our minds and hearts. We take random, everyday events and order them by the calendar, by seasons, by stages of life, by astrological sign, by who we happened to meet on the street corner this morning - and in that ordering we create mileposts. Significance. Relationships. Art. Memories. The story of our lives. The feeling of belonging to something vast and beautiful.

One of the ways we make meaning is through ritual (or ceremony, if you will). When we welcome a child into the world through ceremony, we symbolically give the child to Life and claim the baby's vital importance to her family and to the earth. Who knows what gifts that new human creature will bring to her world? When a wedding takes place, we celebrate the magic of bringing together into one family, through love, a group of people who were once strangers to one another. We have voluntarily extended our notion of who we are obligated to care about. When we gather for a funeral or remembrance ceremony, we not only ease our loss through being in community, but we ritually usher the loved one who has died into the new status of "ancestor." He or she has become part of a family story that reaches back countless generations, into a history lost to us. All of these rituals tie us to each other, to our home the earth and to its creatures, to the long life of the universe and, for some, to a spirit they know as "God" (or any of a thousand sacred names).

So why am I here? Because I love the making of meaning through ritual: the peace and pause it brings into our busy lives, the stories it generates, the unguarded laughter and tears that spring from what it opens up in us. I love the possibilities of joy. I love guiding people to the mirror, to face their own creativity and make their own meaning. I love stories - telling them and hearing them - and I want you to share yours with me.

Why are YOU here?

1 comment:

gary.parks said...

Yes. Well, why indeed. I think you hit upon the nub of it by saying our "why" is to make meaning. That only comes from human expression - Art. We are here, I believe, to express what is unique about us to the rest of the universe. I believe we also have a co-relative duty to observe the expressions of others and in so doing, we receive the universe's self expression. A never ending loop of relationships. Blog on, dear.