It is a simple proposition: ask 100 people what they consider to be the meaning of their lives by the end of this year. I think the question, simple in a way, is truly profound. Moreover, the exercise itself would be/could be a profound one for me—to introduce this as the fundamental inquiry of my life to many with whom I portray myself in more, um, secular ways. It’s not that it’s a religious or even spiritual question—it could easily be answered in a very analytical, atheistic way. It just feels like a breech in politics of polite company, like I’m questioning a basic assumption: that we all know what we’re doing here.
While I know many of my friends who’ve given this question a lot of thought, for the great multitudes, I don’t know. I don’t know what drives them or even if they think about what drives them. And I don’t ask.
And therein lies my challenge: to ask. To introduce that inquiry into our relationship. What if they answer something that is totally different from my answer? What if they say the question is stupid—that life just is and needn’t have a ‘purpose’…thank you very much Rick Warren.
Then there is the fear of caring. If I propose this question, it means that it’s a question I grapple with myself. The inquiry itself is necessitates my own answer, and if there is a public record of my answer, I might be held accountable (particularly if there’s a directive to accompany my declaration). I fear being known so well.
So it’s a choice: to manage appearances or to be known, unanswered questions and all.