Recently I have had several conversations about the measure of a man's life. As accidents happen to people around me, I often begin to wonder how you measure the impact of your life. My best friend told me that he will measure his life by the influence he has on the world. That his life will have the meaning he wants when he creates something that influences the world, or at least a portion of the world, at large.
I had another friend who measured his life by getting married and having kids. Progeny would be his immortality and that his life's meaning was only going to be found when he got married. Still another friend of mine knows not how to measure one's self worth. Life is merely a series of events that interrupted by random moments of despair or happiness.
I don't think any of these answers are right. My first friend wants to influence the world, never realizing how much he has influenced those around him. Sometimes the most important thing is the one that is closest to home. Maybe my friend has an expectation that we should be supportive of his work, not realizing often that it is with awe that we look on to what he can do. That the knowing of one another has changed who I am. Creativity is a well, and though I may have known about its location longer, it doesn't make the drinking any less quenching.
Marriage these days more often than not ends much worse than it begins. I don't think that one can find one's meaning of life in another. It has to come from within and create the passions of fire. It is your feelings for the other person that makes you who you are, not merely a presence. Children I can more understand, but looking to them to provide you with a form of immortality isn't practical. You are alive inside their hearts, but only for so long until you fade from memory with the passing of time. Life must be lived in the moment, for the fragility of what we have makes each moment more special.
As for my last friend, I don't think that life is a series of random events. Without the belief in a greater purpose, life loses the luster, that sheen grows with each passing day. As the days tick away, you have to find that which drives you to continue on through those days. Its the meaning of your life to simply TAKE THE JOURNEY. In the end, that which was important will be clear.
I think that the journey is the important part. We are on a path that we don't have a map for. Each day that passes is the last of its kind, and each day that dawns is the first of its. Its not so much about what drives you through the days and years, but that you make a journey. If your life were to end tomorrow, think about the people who would miss you. Think about how you affect the people around you. Maybe you only effect one or two people, a wife, a husband, a child, a friend. All of these people are changed for having met you. The measure of your life is not in the quantity of deeds accomplished, or the days that have gone by, but in the people you meet.
Life and death are not the sum of life, its the spaces in between that make us up.
End of Line.