What is the Meaning of Life?

It’s the age-old question, but what if I told you, the answer was two short words?  Now it’s not wine and cheese, nor is it TV and shopping? It’s not even love and money.

The meaning of life is friendship and creativity.  I didn’t come by this revelation on my own.  The words come from Dr. Casey Blood, a professor of quantum physics I once met over a decade ago.

Dr. Blood had just described an incredibly challenging problem using high-level concepts and words most of us in the audience were struggling to understand. One man jokingly asked, “Are you going to tell us the meaning of life next?”

Dr. Blood responded, “Oh that’s simple, it’s friendship and creativity.”

In the ensuing decade, I’ve reflected on the wisdom of his words.  I’ve come to realize friendship and creativity truly are the meaning of life because those two simple words sum up the core essence of human joy and struggle.

We’re put on this planet to learn how to connect with each other and to use our talents to create something wonderful.  Our deepest desire is to be cherished on this Earth and to make a contribution that outlasts our stay on it.  Yet our darkest fear is that we won’t, we won’t matter, we won’t be loved, and our lives may be for naught.

Friendship and creativity seem like relatively simple things, yet the full expression of these concepts is quite overwhelming.

True friendship isn’t just mindless water cooler chatter; it’s about love, acceptance and unconditional support.  Creativity isn’t limited to the annoying mime artist pestering you at the street fair; it’s the core of any meaningful contribution.

Whether you’re a painter, publicist or parent, your life’s work is your legacy and every single task provides you with an opportunity to create.  Whether you do it with your hands, your mind or your heart, creativity ultimately expands when you have help.

That’s where the conflict comes in.

Our biggest (perceived) challenge in accomplishing our life’s work is all those other crazy humans out there trying to do same thing.  They plague us with their unrelenting demands, they don’t love us the way we’d like, and they insist on bringing their own quirks and ideas into every situation.

If only they would see things our way, then we could really make this world right.

Such is the nature of the human ego.  Our soul wants to be part of something bigger than ourselves, but our ego keeps telling us that all those other people are standing in our way.

Enter the cheap, no-work, pop culture solutions: social media and shopping. We can create, we can connect and we don’t have to put up with real people.

The beauty and the curse of our online world and consumer culture is they satisfy our desire for intimacy with no emotional work or responsibility on our part.  And consumerism feeds off our need for creative outlet.

I’m no Earth Mother. I’ve got a closet full of shoes and I can recite the words to every “Brady Bunch” episode since Mike and Carol got married.  But I also know that the meaning we crave can’t be found in pop culture solutions.

Finding your true purpose, honing your talents, and learning to bring forth your best self in cooperation with others is the hard work of being human on this planet.

Friendship and Creativity.  It’s really that simple.  And it’s really that hard.