Memories of meaningless

People want to give their lives meaning. Does it mean to dedicate your life to others? That sounds like a vicious circle, who are others dedicating their lives to? Does it mean to exercise influence over the lives of others? I tend to distrust someone who hungers for leadership. It seems more like they are just trying to demonstrate their superiority. Judging yourself in comparison to others is a recipe for unhappiness and self-delusion. Perhaps the best we do is just to get the most enjoyment out of life we can, whether anyone else knows or cares. A poem I once read from years ago comes to mind. I don’t recall the author. It said in part:

“Oh what is life if bound by care

We have no time to stop and stare.

To stand beneath the bended bough

And stare, like any sheep or cow.”

It goes on, but I don’t recall the rest. It may be the one that ended with the line about life being complete with “A loaf of bread, a jug of wine and thou.”

The movie moguls often tell the story of some important person’s life. They cover all the pertinent facts in a three-hour movie, throwing in a love story to boot. Think of all the years they have considered insignificant and not worth mentioning. Yet, it is all those times of insignificance that can give life its meaning.

To enjoy life, to drink the full passion of existence, one must learn to enjoy those moments of meaninglessness. One must enjoy just being alive, for the essence of the true joy of life is just the sensuality of living: the breathing, seeing, hearing, laughing, crying, tasting, loving, and singing.

How dull life would be if we humans did not respond to music, or have a sense of humor, an appreciation of the ridiculous, the ability to have a good laugh, or the ability to feel our spirit swell in becoming inspired by something utterly beautiful, be it of the world or of the spirit. This is the essence of passion, open to all, rich and poor, and evidence of the spirit of a person from deep within. It gives joy to the insignificant. It is the essence of humanity, and perhaps the key to the meaning of life.

I’m an old man now, and I suppose, lucky to be. Most of the people who made up society during the prime of my life are not here anymore. Those that are, like me, are no longer involved with things. Throughout my life I have accumulated a wealth of pleasant memories. They range from the freshness and excitement of the changing seasons, to the thrill of a sweetheart’s first kiss. There have been so many enjoyable times with hosts of people, celebrating, picnicking, swimming, skiing, hiking, laughing, working and caring. What happens to all those memories when their rememberer leaves the world?

Sweet memories wafting through one’s mind like a warm breeze carrying the scents of spring, or the laughter of the children we all were. I sail across seas and forests, to the places I have been, and many where I have only wished to be. Remembering creates music within one’s soul. What sweet new awareness and bliss in a first brushing of cheeks in the realization of discovering romantic love. It is strange how such a brief moment in reality can linger for ages in the mind, like sweetness on the tongue. I remember so many of the simple carefree joys of youth, laughing for the joy of laughing; laughing so hard that you begin to cry. Youthful pleasure can be so intense that it almost becomes pain. Youth can radiate an eagerness to please, inspired by the love in a mother’s eyes, or the comfort of a father’s sure handed guidance. These are distant but lovely memories indeed, their eventual absence being inconceivable. It is strange how matter of fact we accept the inevitable. May God bless America.

Richard Westlund is a Collins resident. Send comments to