Memories, Life and Graduation

My daughter graduates from high school this week (yes: I am that old). Over the past two years, she has had the privilege of having one of those English teachers who was top-notch and memorable, encouraging his students to think critically, independently, and pursue excellence.

Anyway, he handed his students a transcript of a graduation speech to Kenyon college provided by noted novelist David Foster Wallace. I had not heard of David Foster before but read through the transcript at my daughter’s request, and in doing so, found myself in one of those moments of reflecting on the past, looking toward the future, and contemplating, not so much the purpose of life in the grand scale, but our purpose in it on a personal scale.

Which seems fitting on this Memorial Day, and also days before many across this nation and the globe declare, by way of ceremony, their preparation is over, and take the first step into life as world influencers.

Or, perhaps, just find a way to make a living. Or, just survive another day.

That is the rub in life, isn’t it — a point that Wallace takes time to mention. Namely: We feel in ourselves — at least from the vantage point of a graduation ceremony — that life is to be lived purposely. That it should not be wasted chasing after things that matter little. But the majority of life, for most of us, takes place somewhere between the workplace, grocery store and the television. Life may be weighed down with purpose, but it is enough for many of us this week if we manage to squeeze in our favorite TV show — and not lose our jobs.

I could say much more on this topic — of a life with meaning, of how our view and beliefs about the world invariably trickle down to how we awake each day and live out our lives. And how the modern mind finds itself a bit at odds with itself, between purpose and purposelessness, of meaning and meaninglessness. But I will keep it short this week. After all, it is Memorial Day weekend. What is left of it, anyway. And there is that TV show I wish to squeeze in. 🙂

So let me end by asking you this question: Does life have meaning? Rather, what meaning does life have for you, and how does your view of the world and our existence translate to what you see as your purpose, if any, each day you awake? I look forward hearing from you.

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