Friday, August 24, 2012

The Meaning of Life

What is life?

Not to go all existential here, but lately I've been asking myself that question -- and actually sticking around for an answer.

It's a puzzle that has stumped great thinkers for centuries, one with which, to be honest, I hadn't troubled myself too much until recently. I always figured that if you spend an inordinate amount of time questioning life, chances are you weren't truly living it. No, I've never been shallow, but I just preferred to devote my depth to questions I might actually be able to answer: Where would I like to be tomorrow, next week, five years from now? Love or money? What is love? (I have some decent theories on the latter -- stay tuned.)

Lately, though, my growing paternal urges are changing everything. Suddenly, it's all about life -- giving it, shaping it, living it (even more so than before). I can't pass by a child under the age of 6 without wondering, What if? (Part of my recent baby fever must be due to the fact that I'm in a country where they all seem to be even more unreasonably precious than they were in Argentina.)

Thus begins a chain reaction of tough questions, always punctuated by the big one: What is life? The other day, after seeing a particularly adorable baby, I actually found myself wondering where it begins, when it begins, launching an internal debate about abortion which left me still in favor of a woman's right to choose, but wishing the options could be different.

When you start thinking about being responsible for another life, maybe you inevitably start thinking about what it all means. I haven't come up with any definitive answers yet. I'm not even sure if there are any. But I thoroughly enjoy reading -- and listening to -- the theories of others.

According to Merriam-Webster, life is...

1 
a : the quality that distinguishes a vital and functional plant or animal from a dead body  
b : a state of living characterized by capacity for metabolism, growth, reaction to stimuli, and reproduction
2
a : the sequence of physical and mental experiences that make up the existence of an individual  
b : a specific part or aspect of the process of living life

According to author James Frey, life is... "whatever you want it to be."

First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt's take on life? "The purpose is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience."

In music and movies, it's so much more.  For starters, life is...
 
...sweet


...bad


...beautiful


...too short


...just a fantasy


...a highway


...a gas


...a miracle


...what you make it


messy...


Please feel free to leave your own theories in the comment box.

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