Waxingandwayneing’s Weblog

August 13, 2008

Why are We Here?

Filed under: The Meaning of Life — waxingandwayneing @ 10:17 pm

We drove up to Carmel this past Sunday. What a great drive—even if part of it was on Interstate 5. The beauty of driving, instead of flying, is the opportunity to see so much nature, as well as avoid all of the artificial influence of flying. I find that driving provides me with a therapeutic chance to unwind and mentally explore whatever issues might be clogging up my head.

The summertime landscape on I-5 is mostly brown, but in a very soothing way. Probably because brown comes in so many shades. The glorious hillsides covered in light brown grass portray the majesty of a sleeping lion awaiting the cooler evening. Rich, tilled soil in other areas gives hope to next season’s bounty. Where crops are exploding—and that occurs many places along our route—we are treated to a wide array of mostly greens, from the plentiful vineyards to the ever present lettuces, intermixed with the deep ruby-colored leaves providing an explosive contrast only nature can display.

So, amidst all this natural beauty—oh, did I forget to mention the incredible fog-shrouded coast and hillside of Carmel?—I am drawn deeply to measure my life against time. Not just my time here, but against my time over a larger scale. I cannot help but wonder, “Why are we here?” What does it all matter? Long before I was here and certainly long after I am gone, those hills will be brown, the soil will be rich, lettuces will burst out of the ground, and fog will roll in. These events will happen without my seeing them occur and without my playing any active role in making them happen.

My commitment to my Microsoft Outlook (especially my Tasks and Calendar), my Blackberry (I just love my Blackberry), balancing my checkbook, changing the furnace filter (every 3 months, thank you), my job, family, etc. are so important to me. At times, these matters are all consuming. But, to what end? Do these things really matter? What’s it all about, Alfie?

I turned 50 this year. Perhaps that is driving this contemplation. Milestones are markers that permit us to examine where we are, where we want to be. What probably consumes me most these days is what mark I will leave. Why am I here? At many levels, I feel very good. I have been married for 26 years, have 3 great daughters, live in a beautiful home, have been very successful in my career (could be more successful), have mentored many people, am a leader in my community, make people laugh (most of the time), and care about the world in which I exist. Any yet, I do not feel successful. There is so much more I can do.

So, why am I here? One thing I do know is that I am not content just occupying space like so many other people I observe. Going shopping, taking that trip, or attending that party is all about consumption—activities most people seem so content in which to partake and for which to live. But what do you really have to show for a life based primarily on consumption? How have you improved the world? How will you be remembered?

Shouldn’t we be focused on leaving a lasting mark, on guiding others to improve, on making this world better than it is now? I want to believe that is why we are here. Do you?


1 Comment »

  1. My friend,
    You don’t give yourself enough credit; ‘…yet, I do not feel successful.’ Feelings are abundantly unreliable indicators;they can’t be trusted! I mean, do you FEEL 50 years old? Probably not. You are indeed successful. Want to know how I KNOW this? When you name is mentioned in a gathering, people smile, recall your jokes, your family, your shofar choir, your contributions of time and dough, etc. That would be a truer measure of success in my flea-bitten opinion. There have been times when I will tell my boys about something you have done or said and I tell them, “It wouldn’t be a bad thing to be like Wayne when you grow up, you know.” I am convinced that people do not like us because of who we are, they like us because of how we make them feel. That, as well as our children, is our legacy. I do not entirely share your idea about the focus of leaving a lasting mark; unless it is the lasting mark that our kindness or good example or encouragement will leave in the heart of another. If that is the gauge by which we judge (as it is for me) you pass with flying, brilliant, and neon colors!

    Comment by Nora — August 17, 2008 @ 9:47 pm

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