Work and Meaning

Our lives are specks. Planet Earth is a speck. Our galaxy is a speck. We live in an infinite universe where looking at a star means looking into a past so distant that earth had not yet stirred with life.

We don’t sense our insignificance until it is brought to our attention: A natural disaster. A moment of awe, while seeing spectacular beauty for the first time. An intellectual epiphany in which we grasp but for a moment the impossible scale of existence.

It is at such moments that we can find meaning in our lives. But these moments do not come often. And so, for the great part of our lives, many of us are seeking the “meaning of life. ” Some of us avoid the question by staying busy. Who has time to ponder such questions when there ‘s so much to be done?

Sometimes though, even for busy people, the question strikes us. We complete a project. We finish the work week and have no plans for our days off. We win a competition. Our children grow up and leave home to start thier own families. Some people who ‘ve made a great deal of money ask the question in a different way. They stand alone on the deck of their yachts and ask “is this all there is? ”

The question is eternal: What did St. George do after he slayed the dragon?

I usually think of my memoir as the most important work I ‘ve ever done. Perhaps because of this, I ‘ve found it difficult to write anything else. What is the point of writing something new unless it is as profound or useful to others?

I ‘ve no interest in writing for vanity but I ‘ve always wanted to tell stories. So over the past few years I ‘ve put my pen to paper now and then. I ‘ve done a few short stories and poems. (A poem, by the way, is a story, but it can also be the most essential voice of philosophy). But nothing I ‘ve done is “good enough ” to publish. Some day perhaps I ‘ll take out a piece and finish it.

In the meantime, I am writing a movie script. It has nothing to do with my past work and much to do with the things I love. I may also write the story as a novel. We ‘ll see what develops.

As to St. George, there was no requirement, after he slayed the dragon which was eating all the lovely women of the village, that he go out and do some greater heroic deed. He was allowed after his feat, to enjoy life, the simple pleasures, experiences having nothing to do with his courage or past. So there are times, when I ‘m lucky, that I will walk outside my door here in Key West and enjoy something as simple as the song of a man passing by on his bike. With a smile, we acknowledge one another, then go on our ways, disappearing into the impossible scale of it all.