Toward a Purpose-Driven Life

“My life is a simple thing that would interest no one. It is a known fact that I was born, and that is all that is necessary.”
— Albert Einstein


There seems to me two equally valid points of view regarding the nature of life as we know it:

  1. Life is infinitely complex. There are no two people alike, as the gene pool provides unlimited variation. All sorts of shapes, sizes, and colors exist, not to mention points of view, philosophies, and religions. We know the sound of our loved one’s voice and can discern it out of a noisy room. We can identify their whole face by only the smallest number of features, e.g., “She has your eyes.”
  2. There is no inherent distinction in life. From a God’s-eye view, it’s all really the same. It’s been said that there are only 7 essential storytelling subjects. The human comedy keeps repeating ad nauseum. Humans are all bipedal, omnivorous, mammalian, vertebrate — only a scant 0.1% genetic variance between fellow humans. We are conscious, self-aware, sentient. We subsist, procreate, steal, give, covet, love, live, & die. We are all the same.

The first theory gives me hope. The second gives me pause; it makes me question why the first is hopeful. What’s really curious is that great art has always thrived in both world views. The one inspires the likes of Norman Rockwell, Frank Capra, or Walt Whitman; while the other produces the likes of J.D. Salinger, Woody Allen, and Sylvia Plath.

I’m not convinced that one is inherently better than the other. While I want to believe the one solely, the other won’t leave me alone. I cannot deny each view’s validity and I find that they are not mutually exclusive.

11 Replies to “Toward a Purpose-Driven Life”

  1. Carl, great points. I hadn’t quite thought of that — that sin works like an equalizer. Also, you are sadly correct. I tend to do my best writing late in the night. But my mind also wanders in strange directions. Sometimes I read what I’ve posted the following morning and shake my head in disbelief!

    Julie, spoken like a true mother. ๐Ÿ™‚ And you’re of course right, in every way.

    I think what Carl said about seeing beauty in unexpected places is beginning to be very true for me right now too. I observe myself waffling from existential shock to dread, when it doesn’t have to be that way.

    As Melissa said, both being fundamentally true means we interact with the world, being mindful of the two.

  2. Cool, thanks for the link, Carl. I posted the QOTD over there:

    “I have always eaten animal flesh with a somewhat guilty conscience.” So said Albert from my nifty Wit & Wisdom calendar.

  3. I don’t really see the second view as a negative outlook or even a hopeless one; rather both philosophies evoke a different response.

    The first sets the individual apart from the masses. Each has unique characteristics with infinite possiblity.

    I’m inspired to reach beyond my limits.

    The second philosophy connects me with the individuals across the street and around the world.

    I’m inspired to reach outside of myself.

    Like mosaic artworks, each tile is unique from the other, yet they still comprise the same piece.

  4. You just blew my mind, Melissa! And guess what? I did see I Heart Huckabees (finally!). Haven’t had a chance to write my thoughts on it. But you’re right, I guess I was influenced by the movie in this post without realizing it. It’s definitely that sort of film.

  5. I think both are true, especially from a biblical point of view. Matthew 15:19 “For out of the heart proceed wicked thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false testimonies, calumnies.” There is no denying that our base human instincts make us all the same and give all of us the propensity to live selfishly to the damnation of those around us. Lets not forget that we are not exactly what God created in the first place. Our disobedience and the entering in of corruption make us much more like #2.

    #1 is closer to the truth of who God created us to be. As humans with a free will we can choose to rise above the #2 description and become better, more enlightened, and more giving people. Some people do this without a relationship with God and they can do some very wonderful things. With God we obviously have the opportunity of becoming exactly who he made us to be. Unique individuals with callings, purpose, talents, etc that are all our own.

    As I’ve gotten older I’ve really begun to see the beauty in others. As a shallow example, I used to have a pretty set idea of what type of woman I thought was beautiful. I often comment to Mary about certain women that I think are really beautiful who do not even come close to fitting the worlds idea of beauty. I can see unique features and appreciate how beautiful we all are. And when the person is beautiful inside it really does shine out…I didn’t see this as much when I was younger.

    I think I like art from both points of view as well but my favorites usually turn out to be of the #1 variety.

  6. Maybe that is why God made mothers… I cannot accept the second one for my children, which drives me to pray incessantly for them.

    Sure, Anjelia is doing the same developmentally that all the other 18 month olds out there are doing but my heart tells me that she is a shining star, one of a kind, little girl. It’s inherent that mom’s know these things.

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