This is embarrassing to admit, but the big question I've been asking myself lately is, what is life for? Embarrassing because, well, at my age, you'd think I'd either a) know; or b) have made up a pretty good answer for myself. But honestly, this is the question rattling through my brain: why?
And while it seems I'm asking in a general sense--like, is there a purpose to the whole planet--I'm also asking in a personal sense: what is my life for? I don't think I'd be asking about the larger purpose if I felt I had a personal answer.
So yes, it really is all about me.
The thing I liked about having small children is that I always knew what to do and why it was important. The kids were important. Letting them know that they could trust me was important. As they grew, it was important that they knew they were loved and that they loved in return. It was important that they knew themselves and came to understand that the world is complicated and interesting.
I worked at all of these things, reflecting back to them a world that made sense, a world that cared for them and that was a place where their actions made a difference.
Funny how when it's just about me, I find it harder to keep batting that balloon up in the air, hard to think that life is anything but a cycle of "getting and spending" or of failing to control the weeds in the garden or the clutter on my desk. Hard to know just what I'm supposed to do.
So yeah, keywords for indexing this blog post would include "empty nest syndrome."
The world goes on--a fact which contributes significantly to my struggle. My husband and I had sex and had babies so that the babies could grow up and have sex and more babies. And yes, this next generation has some different ideas and believes that it's all happening to them afresh, but it's pretty much nothing more than the world going around. Things don't move toward an end of history, or toward "happily ever after" and if they did, you'd still have to explain what's happening in the "after."
So is it just genes struggling to will out because that's what DNA makes them do?
Gosh, in the words of my heroine, Nellie Forbush, "I just can't work myself up to getting that low." (South Pacific, Act 1, Scene 1.)
And because I can't--because I'm sitting on the couch writing about what's the reason for it all--I'm noticing God in the room. Because it seems just asking if there is a reason for life invokes God's presence.
If I were a decided atheist I might not be calling that presence God. It might be reason or purpose or just the awesomeness of living. And while I do call it God, I also call it a working out of purpose, of love, of compassion--things that happen in relationships.
Work them out in me, O Lord.