I see lots of bumper stickers I don’t agree with. Occasionally I see one that makes me think. The other day I saw this: “The meaning of life is to live it”. I had to ponder that one for a while.
And I don’t think I agree with it. I think the events of our lives are lived. But, I think the meaning of life is lived events storified. That is, I think events happen and we experience them. But what they mean is how we tell the stories of those events.
Stories are like pearls. Calcified life. Life was lived and then we create stories of the lived experiences. Those stories are the way we want to remember what happened to us. They become the permanent containers for the events we have experienced.
And those stories get strung together like pearls on a string to create what we believe about ourselves. We remember and tell stories that give an image of who we are—both to ourselves and to others. Frequently, those stories are strung together in different ways depending on whether we are trying to tell ourselves who we are or if we are trying to communicate it to others.
The art we create by the stories we tell and the way we string them together is the meaning of our lives.
Now, when there is an event that interrupts the flow of the story—when the artful meaning we create with the way we string our stories together is disrupted by a major loss—we have to re-story our lives. We have to find a way to put that event in the flow to create a new meaning.
So, I think meaning of life is more about how we string together the stories of our lived experience than simply living life.