Life’s Meaning Lies in the Sum of Its Parts


Sometimes we’ll start looking for one thing and find ourselves on a quest for something deeper other times we may be searching and find nothing within a piece.  I’ve found that as a reader that’s just frustrating.  When there’s something that I’m looking forward to reading and it doesn’t measure up to my expectations I find that incredibly disappointing but at the same time it’s all a journey.  Part of going on a journey is adjusting your expectations.  Just because something does not meet your expectations does not mean that you should give up on it this simply means that you may not find what you are looking for in exactly the place you expected to find it.  That’s okay!  That’s how real life is.  How many times do you find yourself looking for something and you wind up finding it in the first place that you look? Sure, sometimes it happens but it’s almost more disappointing when that happens than finding it after spending two hours looking for it.  I probably didn’t want to spend two hours looking for something when I started but it doesn’t make any sense to start looking for something only to give up because you didn’t find it in the first place that you looked.  You’ve got to think creatively about it.  Sometimes I’ll think to myself: okay if I were writing this story in my head where would this be?  I don’t think I’ve ever found anything this way, but sometimes you don’t need to find everything the minute that you want it.

Waiting can be a good thing if you know how to be patient and can make good use of your time while you’re waiting.  I don’t think anyone likes to be on time for something only to have the person that they’re waiting for be late but there are two ways you can handle that situation.  You can be upset that they’re late and make them feel worse for being late or you can learn to live with this small inconvenience and get something done while you’re waiting.  I always carry a small pad of paper with me and a pen.  Well, not always but most of the time.  What I’ve found is that if I go somewhere without my pen and paper I feel almost naked.  It’s a strange feeling.  If I go to a restaurant I’ll ask the waitress for a pen and start writing on napkins.  It sucks forgetting something but if you go home at the end of the night with a pocket full of cocktail napkins then chances are that you’ve probably got a pretty interesting story.  Even if the story written on the napkins is shit the fact that you came home with all those napkins is a story in itself.  From there you can start to ask yourself: okay what was I thinking when I wrote this idea down?  Who was around me?  Was I interrupted?  What happened?  I’ve written entire stories around very simple premises like that and oftentimes they wind up being better stories because the scene isn’t all that interesting and I need more to keep my readers attention.  Creativity is our mind’s way of telling our heart that we care.  If you think about your mind and your heart as two completely separate entities things become a lot more interesting.

I know that love is something that only my heart can understand and that when my brain attempts to process it my brain just stops.  It’s a feeling and the brain has a hard time interpreting a feeling because of where that feeling comes from: the heart.  Our brain is where we spend most of our time thinking through various things and planning this or that, but our heart is where we allow our dreams to come true because it is through the pursuit of things that matter to the heart that our brain can understand the meaning in why we do anything at all.  We don’t do things to satisfy our brain.  We do things to satisfy the longings in our hearts.  If we find ourselves doing something because our brain thinks it’s clever or whatever we should stop and ask if that is something that is truly worth doing.  Sometimes I’ll find myself writing something and about one thousand words into it I’ll just say: “this is shit.”  Many times it’s very good but it’s not where my heart is and if my heart isn’t in something I don’t see how it’s going to wind up being good art.  I don’t think great art has ever come out of the mind, I think art is a unique expression of the heart and the reason that art has such meaning and importance in culture is because it is the only place where the hearts of individual people can intersect.  No one has the exact same thought, but our hearts can feel the same emotions and it is by connecting our hearts that we are able to create art that is truly meaningful and important.

I had an English teacher who was excellent at taking the simple things in life and giving them profound meaning.  I took him two years in a row because I knew that there was no way that what he was teaching could be absorbed in just one year.  He had us read poetry from time to time and I hated it.  I’ve never completely understood the value of poetry it’s such a subjective art, but there was one Frost poem that I can’t quite remember the name of that did seem to speak to me then and it most certainly speaks to me now.  It was about not marching down the path that everyone else marches down.  It was about making your own path.  His point was that it is much more fulfilling to create our own path and remember the bits and pieces of that than it would be to travel down someone else’s path and memorize the various points in the path.  It may be cliché but I think there’s a lot of wisdom there.  No one travels down the same path as someone else.  Life is almost entirely relative.  No one else is going to understand what you’re going through.  No one else is going to know how you got to where you are.  You’ve got to live within yourself and trust yourself that where you’re going is ultimately worth going to and I think this is how we can find value in love.  If we know that where we are going is a place worth going to then we can see the value in bringing someone else with us.  Ultimately, life isn’t about what meaning you carve out for yourself or the things that you create to make yourself happy although there is some value there; it’s about the meaning that you create with someone else and what it means to share that time, those experiences, and all of the unique things that life has to offer with someone else.  Life’s meaning is best understood when it is shared.


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