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Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Most Friendly Theater for Meaning

For all who live fairly humble, nondescript lives, why should we think our life still counts for something? (Serendipity Bible 10th Anniversary Edition, p.575).

This is a question that my dog Stanley never agonized over. He was a terrier and had much spunk and energy. As far as I know he never once experienced angst over questions of being. This I think goes as well for all animals – other than man. (On the other hand, I have seen abused animals – such as dogs – appear sadly and chronically intimidated.) So today's question is peculiarly a human question. Only man as a rule seems ready to doubt his value – his self-worth – based upon humble external circumstances. I think there is a little of the messiah complex in each of us – in some secret, hidden space deep within, we would like to save humanity in some wide, sweeping way. It is not simply the immature that can shed a tear when viewing Superman saving the day and thus fulfilling his heroic role. Since we can have such free-flowing messianic fantasies, we irrationally undergo self-condemnation when confronted with the limitations of ourselves and the restrictions of reality. To put it baldly, if I cannot be Superman, then my life doesn't really count for anything. I have in time come to appreciate man's drive for meaning – a need for meaning that is ironically most deeply satisfied not by broad sweeping contributions, but by very specific in-depth relationships. A sense of fulfillment that comes not by excelling in the impossible, but by effectively accomplishing the doable. The most friendly theater for meaning proves to be the humble and nondescript.

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