How Meaning Is Made

The question that has bothered humanity since the beginning of consciousness–and that inspires my life’s work–is “Why?”

Why are we here? What does it all mean?

We can answer all the other questions just fine–Who? What? When? Where? How? And yet the why of it all drives us mad if we let it, if we see the lack of a clear answer as uncertainty. Uncertainty leads to insecurity, which leads to fear, which very often leads to violence in some form or other. But the why is not uncertain. It is mysterious.

Over the millennia, we have created countless traditions that seek and revel in mystery. Call them wisdom, philosophy, religion, spiritual path, or whatever you will. They feed our souls and fill the void that no amount of knowledge could ever fill. At the end of the day, our beliefs are what give our lives meaning.

But what is meaning and how do we make it?

Meaning is truth created by the connection of beings through shared language.

For example, you read a book or a poem or an essay that feels like it was written specifically for you. The writer perfectly describes your experience even though you’ve never met. They’ve said it, you’ve read it, and now it’s become truth in your life. You share your new truth with your friends and family, and if it is true for them, your bond grows more meaningful.

That’s how faith traditions work. We are drawn to the truth communicated in language that makes sense to us as individuals and communities. Certain words, gestures, and practices are meaningful because they give us peace in the presence of “Why?”

The thing is, those certain words, gestures, and practices are not the same for everyone. But the end goal is.

Thus far I have sought the truth in Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Wicca and other pagan paths, metaphysics, and Yoga… and I’ve found that every spiritual path I’ve encountered, at its heart, teaches the same wisdom. We’re all going to the same place; we just have different ways of getting there.

So what’s the answer? What’s the truth? What does it all mean?

We make the meaning.

Whether you see God as a person, as energy, as emptiness, as one or many or none–the truth is. The Truth comprises all of our truths. We make it. It takes all of us.

For me, everything is meaningful. Every relationship, every event, every choice, every breath. I take my responsibility for meaning making very seriously and also very joyfully.

I believe we are here to learn, to grow, to explore, to experiment, to love, to wonder, to play, to live and to die. And that really is the why it of all.

Remember when you were a kid and your parents made you do something you didn’t understand or didn’t want to do? You’d ask, “Why?” and they’d say, “Because.” It’s frustrating, and it’s probably the truest thing ever.

I believe in a divine design, and we each have a part to play in its unfolding. God is in everything, and we are in God. That’s why it is so important for all of us to live out our authentic paths and purposes.

Together as a species, as a planet, as a universe, as life itself, as the divine–we are growing and creating. Maybe it’s toward something, maybe it’s just because. That’s the mystery. That’s the meaning. We’re making it up as we go.

Your life is meaningful. It matters that you grow into the person you are meant to be.

As each flower blooms, the garden becomes more beautiful.

“Beauty is truth, truth beauty”–that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.
–John Keats, “Ode on a Grecian Urn”

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