Al Campbell, Field Editor

April 12th, 2004

The Meaning of Life
Al Campbell

What is the meaning of life? Somebody asked me that loaded question the other day. Why do people ask so many dumb questions? I have way too many important things to consider than to waste my time thinking about dumb stuff like that. For instance, does a peanut butter and jelly sandwich taste better if you smear peanut butter on both slices of bread? Now, that's an important question worthy of my time, and the answer is easy to find.

Darned if that question didn't bother me though. In fact, I discovered that it was wasting way too many of my mental resources to just ignore it and do something else. Dumb questions have a way of doing that. They nag at you with the persistence of a dissatisfied wife until you just give up and try to find an answer. So, I gave up on the really important stuff I was researching, (like do wings work better if tied at 50 degrees than they do at 45 degrees), and devoted my time to the dumb question.

The meaning of life, huh? Let's see; maybe it's the way we raise our kids. There's a good one. People tell me that my legacy in life is my kids, and what kind of people they grow up to be. Oh my, I hope that isn't it. Kids are like clay; you mold them the best you can and pray for the rest. In my case, it's plainly obvious that I'm no artist. It's also obvious I need to practice praying more often than I do. Still, I hope for the best and hang on, praying that all those wild oats I sowed when I was young fail to produce a crop.

Opening day, now there is another possibility. Life is full of opening days. There is the first day of school each year, and before that the very first day of school. Then there is the fishing opener. That is critical stuff to consider. We don't want to forget the pheasant opener, duck opener, deer opener or any of the other important opening days in a young sportsman's life. Unfortunately though, I don't think that is all there is to the true meaning of life.

Is it the person we marry? Oh geez, I hope not. I'm on my second try at that institution, and some days I'm not sure I got it right either time. Speaking of institutions, isn't that where they put people who do bad things and make real bad mistakes? Now, there's something to think about; but I doubt it holds the answer to the meaning of life.

Maybe it is the religion we choose to follow. Some of us get pretty involved in that one. I spent two winters of my young and formative college days studying to be a minister, so I have devoted some time to that subject. It certainly has the potential to be at least a big part of the meaning of life, but somehow I feel that it isn't the fullness of what life is all about. I'd say it is just a part of the puzzle we call life, and for some people it is a larger piece of that puzzle than it is for others.

Some people might say it is how famous you become or how much wealth you can accumulate in a lifetime. I think that is a very shallow outlook on life; but you know how some people are. They start every new adventure with the calculations of how much profit is in it for them. If it won't heap financial wealth on them, they don't want anything to do with it. Obviously, I don't live my life like that, especially if you look at my bank account.

Maybe it has something to do with the impact we have on the lives of other people. I'd like to think that is part of it. What we do in this life will undoubtedly have a ripple effect in the lives of those we meet and spend time with. We have an obligation to make that impact a positive one. In a sense that is the legacy we leave when we are finished with this life. What did we do that made someone else's life better or easier? Was the influence I had a positive one? Will the good things I did live on after I leave this world? Yep, that is a great candidate, but I don't think it is the entire story.

Maybe it's a combination of all of those things, or maybe it's none of the above. It is totally possible that we will never really know the meaning of life in this lifetime. Maybe it isn't really that important to know the meaning of life anyway. Maybe the only real important things are decided by what we do here and now. I don't have those answers. Or, maybe I just answered all of it. Who will ever know for sure?

Oh well, maybe it wasn't that important after all. Maybe the real meaning is determined by how we spread the peanut butter on that sandwich of life. Do we call it good to spread it on just one slice of bread, or is it better to spread it on both? I'm sure the answer depends on the individual. ~ AC

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