I’m browsing my library’s e-media catalog, pondering all sorts of things about life and what this great big (yet somehow tiny) planet is all about. (Funny how looking for books fits so seamlessly with pondering life’s meaning.) Honestly, I’m not sure I’ll ever find the answers. Scratch that. I’m quite sure I never will. But somehow that’s the beauty of it all. You’re promised nothing. Nothing except an opportunity to make of it what you will. And that’s something. That’s one big huge something. Even if it’s just a moment, you get something. You get a piece of the wonder.
And me? I’ve been fortunate (and somehow, I’d say, brave) to experience some pretty amazing things. After 34 years, I’m finally stepping out and doing what I daresay I was meant to do. And no, those things don’t solve the world’s problems and they don’t save the children in Africa and they don’t end world hunger. But they do make this one little corner of the universe a rather content place to be. And I think that in itself spreads a sort of peace. Even if it’s just a peace that starts at home, in my little apartment on a third floor walk-up in Las Vegas. But then it spreads to my students. They share a bit of that contentment with me. They see the pictures and hear the stories and see me smile and laugh. And I teach them about biology. But I also teach them about life. About what’s important to me and how that doesn’t have to look a thing like what’s important to anyone else. About how living the life you want to live makes for happiness and brings something special to the world, something that was missing. And, yes, it’s all sort of corny. But who cares? Because life is this big, beautiful gift. And who knows why we’re here, and who knows how long any of us actually have. But let’s stop asking that question, and let’s simply live it. Because I’m fairly sure that is the meaning — to live. Let’s live every moment and embrace it and soak it in. Let’s give our moment — our tiny little blip in time — the respect it deserves. Let’s be happy. Even when the sky is falling. Even when the world is caving in. Even when our hearts are torn and we face the darkness. Let’s do everything in our power to simply be happy.
“When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder if I have made of my life something particular, and real. I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened or full of argument. I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.” –Mary Oliver