The holidays are a time when spirituality or the lack thereof, seems to abound, and I get a bit more introspective about the big picture. There has been a lot of conversation throughout the centuries about the meaning of life. From Buddha to my cousin Judy, everybody eventually has an opinion. This is a subject that some of us pursue and others of us scoff at as being a philosophical self-indulgence in the midst of keeping up with the bills and the laundry. Who has time?
You would think that if we could travel to the moon, construct the human genome and learn how to Instagram that by now we would have solved this mystery. But apparently the final definition has not been signed, sealed and delivered by those who manage the archives of knowledge.
It was two and half years ago after my mother died that the answer came to me. And as the candles are lit, the dreidls are spun and the trees are decorated, I think of her. I didn't find the meaning of life on a mountaintop or a sanctuary. I didn't find it in church or in a book, or in beautiful jewelry, or even in arriving somewhere I always wanted to be.
I discovered that the meaning of life is just having it around. It is the glow, the talk, the stupid stuff, the smart stuff, laughing your head off at a dumb joke, the shared idea, the motion of having a living person with you. Because when my mother left us, I could clearly see that the value in the beautiful things surrounding her had been magnified by the life she imbued them with. And when she left, things seemed to deflate. And that's when I knew.
The meaning of life has nothing to do with telling someone that you love them or the last thing you said to them. It has to do with the simple breath, the irritations, the everyday, the phone calls, the arguments, the Chinese food, the ongoing story, the small picture. The small picture is the big picture. The meaning of life is just having life itself.