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The Meaning Of Life This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   We are all here for a reason. All of us. Every human through every amoeba has a purpose, and every action produces an infinite number of consequences, yet we as human beings are quite possibly the only ones who can consider the consequences before we act. We direct the course of the future by our thoughts, ideas, and especially by the actions which arise as results. Every moment is one instantly lost into the eternal flux of time, leaving only a trace - its memory - behind. Destiny and God are fanciful concepts that, at most, can be determined by the infinite complexity and holistic nature of the universe. We can all choose our own destinies. Each of our lives, the way we now know them, rests upon the foundation built by the actions and consequences of billions of people in our world's history. Each person counts, and each has done something to steer the tide of history's events, no matter how insignificant it may seem. Even if some people do not impact the world, they will surely greatly impact those around them, and even after they pass away, some form of memory - whether mental, historical, or consequential -- will live on. That memory is a form of the human soul, whose strength is determined by the character of the person during life.

Like ripples in a pond made by individual drops of rain, each forms small ripples which spread and mingle with each other even when the droplets themselves are assimilated into the system. Ripples bounce off ripples, sending each other into new directions. A few simple drops can set a system into a seemingly chaotic unrest, yet is, in reality, just a pattern so complex it seems random. However, one cannot make a wave without displacing a medium. "An individual piece only has meaning when it is seen as part of the whole," wrote G. W. F. Hegel in his work, The Phrenology of Mind. "We have to see the world as a dynamic process - rather like a giant organism." People are linked to those who precede them and those who follow them, and it is my goal in life to leave enough of an influence to benefit as many as I can in as many ways as I can. It is a personal goal to further build a strong foundation for future generations, who will be affected by my actions as much as by my inactions. How much longer would it have taken us to learn what we now know about gravity had Isaac Newton not been looking at a tree when that one famous apple fell to the earth? We are often looking the other way, as much literally as metaphorically, when there is potential for a brilliant idea.

How many ingenious concepts has the world lost because nobody was around to witness something that could have sparked a remarkable connection? Judging by the histories of revolutionary inventors and theorists who worked hard to fight the tides against them, we can assume there have been even more unknown visionaries who were unable to compete with the censure, reproach, and their own lack of confidence that destroyed their dreams. Where would we be had Newton, Edison or Einstein given up? There would be far fewer ripples in the water.

There is an immense potential locked away inside everyone. I find many people around me living in a common state of dreariness. They have talents but do not believe in themselves. They complain about little things and are quick to give up. They are wishing their lives away, rarely enjoying anything. They seek not to see what tomorrow holds, but only to be rid of today. To waste such a powerful store of knowledge and ability is criminal. People everywhere are taking the metaphorical slice of life and throwing away the rest, leaving it to decay unenjoyed. We regret not doing something we wished we had more than we regret having done something we wished we had not.

Trying different things, especially what we may be afraid of, leaves us with experience, confidence, and self knowledge. I recall an image of my father standing on a beach, watching a group of young jet-skiers. "I got old too fast," he had said, "I wish I could have done things like that when I was younger."

People should make as much use of their abilities as comfortably possible - it should not be too strenuous a task, else it turns into a drudgery. In my freshman year, I was listening to a history teacher give a lesson about the Renaissance in which he described what is known as the "Renaissance Man." Though the teacher did not know it, he had seeded within me a new personal philosophy by indirectly answering questions I had been pondering for years. What is the meaning of life? Why are we here, and what are we to do with ourselves? Without doing meaningful things, life is meaningless, but the Renaissance Man fulfilled his potential. He knew the value of his own mind and the immense abilities within it. He knew what talents his two hands could be trained to perform, and he challenged the world to challenge him, using his potential to do all that he could for himself and the world. He wisely invested his most valuable asset: time. Many have used it to understand the world, and others have used it to express the world. Others are wasting it, and still others have so little left. There is great power in creation. Writer John Updike sees artists as having God-like qualities who can bring objects into the world out of nothing but imagination, thereby violating the primary physics law of matter: conservation. We cannot solve every problem nor create every great masterpiece, but in fulfilling our purpose in life, we must attempt to return what we can to the world that created us by recreating ourselves and discovering what we ourselves can create. -


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.





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splinteredsunlight said...
Mar. 6, 2011 at 12:59 pm:
Wow, I love how this piece was written. It's very deep and inspirational. I wrote a similar piece, called 'My Journey Towards Discovering the Meaning of Life', maybe you could look at it & tell me what you think?
 
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