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Clarification on The Meaning of Life

October 15, 2007

I recently received an email from a friend of mine who did
express offense at my blog entry entitled “The Meaning of Life.”  I am
posting my response to her below in order to help clarify my intentions
with that entry for others who may have had similar reactions…

Dear XXX,

I am glad that you wrote to me.  I agree with everything that you
said in your email.  I was afraid that what I wrote in that blog
entry would be misinterpreted, but at the same time, I was going
through one of those days where I just felt so out of place in so many
conversations that I felt I had to release.

I do not judge people who have more than what I would consider
necessary; indeed, I have more than I consider necessary, which is why
I framed the blog entry, as well as the one that followed it, as an
inner struggle.  I feel guilty at times because I look at what I
have and look at what so many other people have (or don’t have, really)
and feel like I just want to give it all away… but at the same time,
I’m so used to this level of comfort that it takes me ages to decide on
what to part with when I get something new.  (My new rule is to
give up an article of clothing for every new one that I get, but I
spend ages standing in front of my closet thinking, “Oh, but I might
wear that someday… and that, too… and that….” before I finally
pick something that I can “bear” to part with). 

Yes, I do feel that all of us have more than we need and could do with
a lot less.  DVD players (what was wrong with VHS?), MP3s (what
was wrong with CDs, or cassettes before that?), iPods, houses with five
bedrooms but three people, and the list goes on.  But our society
is so used to these things that we don’t even realize what we
have.  It’s like that saying, “a fish would be the last to
discover water.” 

I am critical of our lifestyle but that does not mean that I am
critical of people.  To the contrary, I consider myself to be very
empathetic, especially after my own divorce, which was a very humbling
experience.  We all make mistakes.  We all do things we don’t
realize are damaging or offensive, whether environmentally, socially,
or interpersonally.  We all want to do better than we sometimes
do.  We all want to love and be loved.  My proposition is
that by removing all of the “noise” (extra cars, DVDs, iPods, too many
bedrooms) we will actually have more time and ROOM for love.

I am a very critical person, of both the world and myself, because I
don’t want to just take things for what they are.  I want to
analyze the world and myself to make sure that we’re doing things the
best way we can and, if not, to see what might be changed.  So
critical in this sense means analytical, not critical in the negative
sense, not in the criticizing sense.

Wanting to have a house and a family are noble goals, goals that I will
one day have as well.  But at the same time, just like you and
XXX, I want
to always be making sure that my career is working towards something
better than what exists today.



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