How meaningful relationships create a fulfilling and beautiful life.
| How meaningful relationships create a fulfilling life
So many have attempted to understand and explain the age old question of what creates a truly meaningful life. Yet millions of people are still floundering on this existential mystery. In my own quest to find the meaning of life, I have found that it lies in aligning with our personal values. Often, these values are invisible and somewhat elusive, and it can take a lot of soul searching to figure out what your core values are. After reflecting upon how I would like to feel, if I were lying on my deathbed I discovered that personally, I would like to feel that I have brought joy to as many people as possible and helped those in need as much as I can. I value humanitarianism and relationships above all else, and I strive daily to reflect this in my actions. At the end of the day, I would like to be remembered as someone who made a positive difference to the lives of many. This is not so much from a fear of dying alone or out of a desire for a massive funeral, but more from the fact that I feel life is meaningless without giving back to other people. Life itself is an opportunity for growth and an opportunity to reach out and touch the lives of others. As my grandfather once said, "A life lived without love, is a life wasted."
I recently watched the film "Into the wild", a story about a young man in pursuit of truth and happiness, who left behind everyone and everything he had ever known, in favor of a long solo journey into the wilderness of Alaska. After many struggles with the elements of nature, Christopher McCandless ends up eating a poisonous plant and slowly dying alone far from civilization. In the days leading up to his lonely death, Chris reflects on his memories and writes in his journal "happiness is only real when shared", as tears pour down his face. It is a somber scenario in that his realization is a little too late. In his solitary last moments, memories of past encounters with loved ones flit before his eyes and he remembers the kindness of strangers that he met along his journey. In one scene, Chris sits on top of a mountain with an elderly man he has met. The man says to him "When you forgive, you love, and when you love, God's light shines on you" which proved to be a revelation for Chris. This is an illustration of how at times, strangers are the best people in a given life experience. Despite the tragic circumstances surrounding his death, Chris leaves a message to be found saying "I have had a happy life and thank the Lord, goodbye and may God bless all!" Proving that in the end, it became more about the journey than the destination and showing that he wished to share his experience with others.
Like Christopher McCandless, many people are in search of truth and happiness. Everyone experiences moments where they long for solitude and the freedom to reflect on these states of being. I admit that at times, I would love nothing more than to find a cave in the mountains and make it my home. However we don't have to go into the wild, forsaking society completely, in order to discover truth and happiness. We can find these inner experiences through setting aside a small amount of time as often as needed, when we can meditate in solitude. Each of us is born alone, we live alone and we die alone, in terms of the fact that we are the only ones inside our minds. By practicing mindfulness on our journeys, we can learn to develop a character that radiates love and positivity to all those that we meet. In spreading the love, we can build meaningful relationships that will enhance self-esteem and happiness. Relationships lead to personal growth whether a person comes into your life for an hour, a day, a season or a lifetime; the potential for a transformative experience is always there. Strangers and loved ones alike hold the power to broaden our world view and to impart inspiration.
I have met so many wonderful, kind and loving people in my life, on top of being blessed with an incredible family. In my mind, I have a "magical people" list, of all the amazing individuals I have met along my journey. Not all of these people are a permanent fixture in my life, due to the fluid nature of geographical relocation. I have a map in my head of all these people around the world that I have experienced truly deep and life changing connections with. I often think of them and mentally wish them all blessings and good fortune on their journeys. Some I stay in contact with and others I allow to drift towards their individual futures. I have found that people will come and go based on the relevance of the connection at particular times in the spiritual journey. Often, once a lesson has been learned, the teacher drifts away. It is a natural part of life, that energies will ebb and flow. Simply hold space for these precious beings in your heart and soul, and honor the memories and lessons with gratitude. You never know when someone will reappear in your life! The best relationships are the ones where you may have had little contact over the years, but upon reconnecting, it is as if no time has passed at all.
In looking to escape society, Christopher McCandless learnt a very important message about the value of relationships in a meaningful life. Even though he had embarked on his journey with the purpose of seeking solitude, he encountered many inspiring individuals by chance. Within these connections, Chris experienced peace and happiness. In today's economic system, people are encouraged to value individuality and selfishness. Intense, meaningful, supportive, loyal and permanent connections are rare. Yet each person we meet will help us to evolve in some way if we open our hearts and minds to the possibility of change. I am who I am because of all the people I have cared for and all of the people who have cared for me. As Nat King Cole sings in his song "Nature Boy", "The greatest thing you will ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return".