My Thoughts about the Meaning of Life
My Perspective from My Twilight Years

On occasion, I’ll mention that I am a different cat in the past decade. Okay, the occasions are quite often, nonetheless I am different. It haunts me about why I have changed so much. I have some of the pieces of the puzzle of my life making sense to me now. Things like dancing with death, trips on which I have gone, people that I have met, or what others have written. Another issue is dancing with death, which I don’t want to address in this essay. If you wish to read more, go to Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture, and read the introduction to that index page about how doing the dance provided me a different Weltanschauung.

This essay is about three different people with their three insights to living life to its fullest. The first person is truly one of the most remarkable people in this world…Stephan Hawking. He came up with some advice that even if you can’t spell or know what cosmological astrophysics is, you can understand his insights to life here on Earth.

This is what multiwavelength whirlpool galaxy spectrum looks like.

If grasping the above picture is a stretch, Hawking has three points, which can be grasped. “One, remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Two, never give up work. Work gives you meaning and purpose and life is empty without it. Three, if you are lucky enough to find love, remember it is there and don't throw it away.”

Stephan Hawking

Hawking’s legacy is in the rarified space of cosmological thinking. However, he speaks to the common person regarding less rarified issues and manageable truths. Looking up will set the tone for one’s life. Hawking wants us to couple optimism with work, which will provide a reason for living. Ben Franklin had a similar thought about life, “Some people die at 25 and aren't buried until 75.” Those that die at 25 have no purpose or reason for living. While they vegetate for a half century longer, they essentially die due to lack of any reason for being. Finally, if you find the right love, don’t waste the moment. Enjoy the time, because all our clocks are ticking.

George Bernard Shaw was an Irish playwright who lived in the last half of the 19th and the first half of the 20th century. He wrote many plays like My Fair Lady, Pygmalion, Androcles and the Lion, and Back to Methuselah.

George Bernard Shaw

Shaw’s insights and suggestions are insightful. “Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” He wants us to get involved in life, and that process will create the person we are to become. We don’t enter the world as a completed masterpiece. It is our responsibility to take the raw product and create the finished product.

Shaw’s next truism is “Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” In reality, it is a follow-up to his first admonition about creating ourselves. We must start by creating, which means we need to change. While changing might rattle some people, not changing means that we are merely vegetating.

Finally, Shaw wrote another truth, “We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” Becoming old is the result of our lack of a drive to have fun. Our bodies age, which is natural, but growing old is due to not enjoying the time that we are alive. As you read this essay, I am wrapping up several weeks revisiting Burma and my Burmese friends. I didn’t grow old while planning and executing that drive of excitement.

Our final teacher is Bobby Kennedy. He captured the imagination of millions of Americans and others throughout the world. He was my most important mentor.

Bobby Kennedy

Bobby paraphrased something that Shaw wrote in his play, Back to Methuselah, “Some men see things as they are and say, why; I dream things that never were and say, why not.” Bobby was a dreamer. However, his dreams were atypical of the dreams of millions of others. He didn’t dream how to become richer or more famous; he dreamed dreams for the less fortunate. Bobby took the dreams that he dreamt and fleshed them out so that others moved closer to Camelot.

However, the ability to dream doesn’t always materialized into success. Nonetheless, if you wish to be successful, you must be willing to fail. “Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” Failure for him was merely a delay in obtaining his quest as he reformulated a means to success. Or, as Randy Pausch said, “The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.” Achieving greatly is directly related to dreaming and asking why not?

Bobby understood the world is often unfair. He said, “Every generation inherits a world it never made; and, as it does so, it automatically becomes the trustee of that world for those who come after. In due course, each generation makes its own accounting to its children.” He knew that while life that is handed us must be handled by us better, or we will be held responsible by our children.

I have benefited from all three instructors. Bobby’s rewrite of Shaw’s comment about dreaming has been my signature on all my emails for decades. I try to help others without figuring how I can benefit. The benefit that I accrue is seeing others move closer to Camelot. That drives me. Doing the dance with death taught me Carpe diem. Someday will be too late to live.

Now, you have the insights of those three famous people and me. Do yourself a favor. Jot down on a piece of paper three important perspectives that you have on life. Evaluate them. Amend them if necessary. Now, live life by using them as your modus operandi. You will help the less fortunate move closer to Camelot. Interestingly, as you help others getting nearer Camelot, you will see it closer on your horizon.


Bobby Kennedy

Bobby Kennedy

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Connecting The Dots

Connecting the Dots

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An old man and his grandson

An Old Man and His Grandson

Visit The Mentors and Me page to read more about this topic.

My Hauntings

My Hauntings

Visit the My Hauntings page to read more about this topic.