|One Man's Sojourn to find the meaning
This quest is real. I have really embarked on a journey to discover the meaning of life.
How I came to this quest is not a hard question to answer and it came to me in two distinct stages.
Stage One Realization of the desire:
As a human being you are multi-faceted. You have many, many thoughts, desires, dreams, ambitions, hopes and aspirations right? Of course you do. Did you ever read a story about a remarkable person that climbed to the pinnacle of a chosen profession? A person who drove with relentless passion after their desire to be something or do something? Do you envy this person a little bit? Of course you do! We all admire, and even envy the person who says "Ever since I was little I knew I was going to be such and such or do such and such" That person goes against all the odds, ignores all the naysayers and does it! There is a beautiful purity in this!
Well I am one of those people. I have had a vision quest all my life, it was staring me right in the face and I didn't even realize it until I had a dream. The dream brought clarity to me. Here is what happened in that dream:
I dreamt that I was walking inside a library, between two stacks of shelves, and I looked up at the shelves and I couldn't see the tops. Then I looked down the aisle and I couldn't see the end. The books went on for miles and merged into the horizon line.
A swelling of joy came into my heart. "Everything was here! Everything to be learned was right here!" I was overjoyed. I could feel my heart about to burst. I could learn everything.
Then a thought hit me right in the heart. No matter how long I lived, and how hard I tried I would never be able to read even the smallest percentage of the books I could see, let alone the ones I couldn't see.
This thought was like a dagger. It was an exercise in absolute futility. It was something I could never do even though the opportunity was right in front of me.
I began to weep at the horror of it; and I woke up weeping.
This dream really happened. And what did it teach me? That the quest of my life is to "search" for the meaning of life. I have the need to know. I put the word search in quotes because as far as I can be sure my quest is to do the search, I am not sure whether it is in the plan for me to actually find the answer.
Why did the dream take this form?
This dream, to me, is one of the most profound and gives the deepest insight into what makes me tick.
I live in a New England milltown with a population of about a hundred thousand people. A hundred years ago this town was a financial powerhouse having supplied textiles to the whole of a growing nation.
One of the benefits of having such a wealthy town was that we had built an amazing library (now a hundred years old) that was complete with marble floors, marble columns and floors of bookshelves made out of wrought iron and glass. all the floors where the books were stored were made out of glass!
Anyway, I spent the biggest part of my youth and adolescence scouring these library shelves. I practically lived in the place and I could often be seen walking home with an armful of books.
Later in life, when the responsibilities of career, family, bills, school etc. were the center of my attention and the joy of that library had been long forgotten I had a dream that changed my life.
Why Take up the quest Now? Stage Two The opportunity presents itself
So now I am in my forties and I am taking up this quest. Why now?
There are a series of events that have brought me to this now. I have been a good citizen all my life. I followed the rules. I went to school, joined the military, went to college, got a good job, bought a home, pursued a career, raised some kids. The whole shooting match.
And for the last few years there has been something nagging at me. The feeling that I am off course. The feeling that I am not fulfilling my purpose here inside this skin. It all came to a head in a thoughtful conversation with some friends. Somebody brought up the topic of following your dream career. It goes like this: If you could do anything thing at all what would it be? The typical responses are I would be a doctor, a writer, join the peace corps, just be wealthy and have lots of free time, be able to retire young etc. etc. etc. My response came right out without me even having to think about it. It was there all the time just waiting to come out. "I would search for the meaning of life". Simple as that.
Over the course of the next few weeks it kept nagging at me. Why aren't I following my true hearts desire? Shouldn't I? Will people think I am crazy? Some people will, no doubt about that. But so what? Should that dissuade me?
Well here I am, actually doing it! I am pursuing my dream to discover the meaning of life. I have a certain amount of financial security which allowed me to give up the career. The kids have grown and have left the nest. Now it's just me and the whole universe in a wrestling match. I got the universe in a headlock and I am asking the question of it: "What is the meaning of life?"
There are plenty of things written about the meaning of life, going back to the beginning of written history, and of course the question has been in peoples minds since the dawn of questions. But what makes it different for me. I have written a little bit about why my quest is different. Is it just another guy wondering about the meaning of life.