The Meaning We Hunger For
We humans hunger for meaning in our lives.
Especially in these unsettled times, there's an urge for the things that fill the deepest parts of us, that connect us with something larger than ourselves.
But of all the things we get taught - I before E, except after C, long division, state capitals - we don't get taught how to find meaning in our lives.
So we go looking for it, sometimes expecting meaning from things that can't provide it, like money, status, prestige.
From what I've known, but more importantly, what I've felt - meaning, after all, is not so much something we know in our head, but feel in our soul - we need not look far. I've come to believe we finding meaning in each other.
Not exclusively. There's much to be found in the natural world, art, our own inner lives. At the same time, there are parts of us that only come alive in kinship with one another. The heartbroken friend who brings out the deepest well of compassion in us. The irreverent neighbor who makes us laugh those huge, almost-can't-breathe laughs. The trail guide who wakes us up to the jaw-dropping beauty of a gray winter skyline. The kid who demands a fullness of attention and presence we didn't know was possible in us.
Our work, then, is to invest in those relationships that deepen, enrich, nourish our sense of meaning. To turn ourselves towards them, give of ourselves to them, receive fully from them.
It's an essential form of feeding. We hunger for meaningful lives, and that hunger is worthy of being fed.