Alacrity and the meaning of life

The other evening, as I was driving home, the sky was suddenly illuminated by bolts of lightning – quite extraordinary really! It would not take much imagination to realize how the “ancients” perceived this to be the “hand of God,” or gods. It all began like Tchaikovsky’s 1812 overture: a crash, a smash and a bang. (1) I was pulled back to my youth when I lay in my parent’s garden with my friend Blake to look up at the stars just prior to a storm. This was a time devoid of light pollution (2) so you could literally see into the heavens. Each star beckoned you further and further into the stratosphere. Every time you looked, the distance expanded – the starlets summoning you, as if to say, “Come embrace infinity.”

This is surely the dilemma that affects all of us in our civilization. Our technology is limitless, coupled, of course, with our knowledge – but, it affords us zero wisdom. We, however, want to be wise. We want to be thoughtful beings. How do we begin to become thoughtful? What skillset should we access to begin? I, like so many others, believe that understanding begins with the self. I must decide to commence my personal quest of discovery, as soon as I am able. I was asked a curious question recently, “When am I ready to begin?” The answer is undoubtedly, “Never!” we are never fully prepared for anything in this life, I believe. If we wait for a totally calm day to “set sail” on that personal voyage, it will never come. Our days are never totally calm, are they?

At times, I am sure; however, “the weight of the world” seems like a heavy burden to carry. Dr. Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965) was a noted theologian and philosopher. One of his keynote philosophies was the idea of the Reverence for Life: “Reverence for life says that the only thing we really are sure of is that we live and want to go on living. This is something that we share with everything else that lives, from elephants to blades of grass — and, of course, every human being. So we are all sisters and brothers to all living things, and owe to all of them the same care and respect, that we wish for ourselves.” (3) The good doctor gives us a small piece of advice: “In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.” (4) He is referring to the value of true friends. Thus we must be brave and avoid the negativity that is, at times, overwhelming and look to the good and the beautiful because it is more abundant that the bad and the evil. We must remember those days that our spirit is reignited by flashes of light so we can continue our duty-to-the-self.Aristotle (384-322 BC) leaves us with a thought: Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom. (Parts of this essay were first published on November 2013.)

A closing thought: One of the essential traits of commencing any pilgrimage – however short or however long — is curiosity. We must simply begin to “look at the world.” What lessons does it hold – what secrets are to be uncovered? Nature is eminently interesting for she slowly reveals her truths. Like anything in life, unfortunately, if you fail to look, nothing is there. There is but “a blank slate” to look forward to. There is no purpose to life unless you find its purpose. Each of us has a mission, but if we fail to uncover it, it is never revealed. It remains hidden inside its cocoon. The magnificent butterfly, that is my life, is never allowed to unfurl her wings and fly.   

To sum up: This week, we spoke about taking the time to discover who you are and what you must do in your life.

A philosophical point to reflect on: Knock, knock who’s there? Opportunity! Don’t lie, an opportunity never knocks twice.

Just for fun: The Best of Tchaikovsky 

This week, on your introspective stroll, please look at living nature all around you.

Every day look for something magical and beautiful.

Quote: I must share my joy for life with everyone.


1) Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture

2) Light Pollution

3) This quote is attributed to Leslie Seth-Smith (1923-2007), also known as James Brabazon, the biographer of Dr. Schweitzer. This is not James Brabazon (b. 1972), the screenwriter.

4) Albert Schweitzer