Posted by Dinah on June 23, 2010, at 8:44:40
In reply to What is it all for?, posted by linkadge on June 22, 2010, at 16:10:08
My kneejerk response to your post was to think of a fragment of a quote I didn't even realize I knew, but apparently heard lately. I googled it and discovered it was a quote by John Wesley.
"Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can."
My thoughts are that if you judge whether life is worthwhile based on feeling good or being happy, life's worth will always be based on the ephemeral feelings of the moment. If you feel bad and have felt bad for a while and don't see many prospects for feeling better, then life must not be worthwhile.
While it's true that memory and expectations tend to be state specific, so that when you're feeling depressed you tend to remember all the times when you were depressed before and believe that you will feel depressed as far into the future as you can see. While when you're feeling well, the depressed times can seem like a bad dream that you hope will never come again. Keeping that in mind might make life's worth seem a bit more consistent.
But if you change the yardstick for measuring life's worth a bit, looking out rather than in, existential crises seem to fade into the background. Am I doing what I can to make the world a bit better place than if I weren't here? If not, what can I do to make my life mean something to those around me?
It doesn't have to be anything big. When I think of the people who have made a difference in my life, I might think of Abraham Lincoln. But I'm more likely to think of the old high school friend who called me when she heard I had a baby. She remembered that in high school, I had mentioned having a history of depression and anxiety. She wanted to ask me how I was doing, and to share her stories of postnatal depression once she heard in my voice that I wasn't really doing well. She changed my life for the better. She died a few years later from a chronic illness, and the world lost a special person. But *my* world is better because she lived. For herself, she might not have always said so.
I know it all sounds hokey. Like "It's a Wonderful Life". But maybe that movie has such eternal appeal because it has a kernel of truth at the center.
We don't have to wait for life to have meaning. We can make a choice to make our lives meaningful.