The meaning of life
I'm not going to beat around the bush with this one because I have only just gone and realised what the meaning of life...! It has taken me 29 years.
Are you ready?
The meaning of life, which is the reason to carry on when it's tough and the only way to live truly and happily is:
- TO LOVE AND BE LOVED IN RETURN -
I hope this doesn't feel like an anti-climax to you. This is so fundamental and the basis of everything else that is good about life. Imagine winning the lottery but realising that no one truly loves you and you don't want to help anyone. Would it still make you happy? Countless examples of lottery winners prove it wouldn't. We can look at it the other way too; imagine going bankrupt but being surrounded by love and support. Is it really that bad? Will you ever actually starve or lose everything? In a lot of cases, it has proven to be a life-affirming experience that brings out the best in people and how we can pull together when we love each other.
The Bohemian ideals of truth, beauty freedom and love (above all, love!) chime well with me.
Truth - always bubbles to the surface. It is far better to be truthful and deal with any repercussions in the moment because you will have to eventually. It feels so much worse to be betrayed and lied to than it does to process it together as it happens.
Beauty - I have been fascinated by whether beauty can be universally understood or whether it is really subjective to the individual. For example, there are some compositions or architectural buildings or paintings that everyone agrees are beautiful. Yet there is also a lot of disagreement too. Have we found a beauty "formula"? I have heard of research into this with music in particular and how scientists can be certain that a certain sequence of notes sounds better to us than another for specific reasons - is that beauty?
Freedom - Freedom to love, move, eat and identify. Every day I count myself lucky to have been born to liberal parents who trusted me to be exactly who I was, knowing that every phase and diversion (and there were a lot in my teens!) would end with me returning to who I truly am. Mum has always said that the thing she is most proud of when she sees her daughters grown up, is how different and individual we all are.
The flip side of freedom is that most of us continue to do things that we don't feel we have control over. Whether that's sticking it out in a job you hate or living in a place you don't want to be in. Sometimes, these circumstances are seen as necessary evils and the view is much more long term. I have an investment banker friend who hates his job and his job has consumed all his time and energy for years. However, he knows that if he sticks it out for a few years, he will get to where he wants to get in time. A sacrifice many of us make in smaller ways every day. This can be good but please don't let it ruin the best years of your life. You don't HAVE to!
Love - above all, I believe in love. Love lifts us up where we belong! It is like enlightenment when you realise you are feeling it truly. And yet, it is difficult and can take years filled with mistakes and pain to learn how to love and be loved in return. For me, it has taken almost 30 years to get it right and I will spend the rest of my life cherishing every minute.
Leonard Cohen On the meaning of the lyrics to You Have Loved Enough:
“‘You have loved enough, now let me be the lover.’ You could say that God is speaking to you or the cosmos, or your lover. It just means, like, forget it. Lean back and be loved by all that is already loving you. It is your effort at love that is preventing you from experiencing it.”
~ from a 2001 interview following the release of Ten New Songs