I just finished reading When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi for Book Club, and of all the passages I highlighted in this honest memoir, I find myself coming back to this question:
"What makes life meaningful enough to go on living?"
A question so simple yet challenging. And before you read any further, I'll let you know that I have no coherent thoughts or answers in this blog post, just a selfish urge to get thoughts down in writing in hopes that I'll be able focus on work thereafter.
The thing is, to "go on living" is something I've always taken for granted. Not having to confront terminal illness or severe depression will have that kind of effect on you. This book, however, makes me re-contextualize "living" as a choice in that, freak accidents and acts of God aside, most of us choose to "go on living" day after day, I guess, by not killing ourselves. But why? Why do each of us decide to live?
I acknowledge most of us continue to live likely out of habit, a product of evolution that we have engrained in us as a species. And perhaps, expecting any sort of meaningfulness in life is wistful post-modern thinking. Others might say living is meaningful because we're made in God's image - or something of that sort - that makes living sacred, period.
But tonight, I think you and I have the capacity to evaluate what makes life meaningful enough for each of us to go on living. I personally want to tackle that question for myself. Why? Honestly? Because the question's never even crossed my mind before.
I'm not asking myself, "What's my purpose in life?" but rather, "What do I find in my life meaningful enough to me to go on living?" It's a less daunting question, but one I don't find any easier to answer. Where do I begin? Where do I end? It's an illuminating exercise in self-evaluation, to stop and think about what you actually value and find to be meaningful enough at your core.
What if all of us were asked to reflect on what was important to us, and shared what we each thought makes life meaningful enough. I wonder if and how that would shape our interactions with one another.
As my friend, and fellow Book Club member Jonathan, poignantly remarked, "I think we are going to learn a lot about each other based on our thoughts of this book."
I'm really looking forward to this Book Club meeting.