A while ago, I had a revelation about the power of meaning:
At some point last year, I found myself in a bad spot. I was wondering if a decision I had made basically amounted to the biggest mistake of my life.
Naturally, my subconscious happily provided the “yes, you did” and “no, you didn’t” arguments, which did nothing to answer the question (or, more importantly, allow me to go on with my life).
This gnawed on me for quite a while and nothing seemed to help.
Until I remembered meaning.
Objectively speaking, I had been in much worse spots in previous times of my life. But somehow, back then, I had generally been able to ascribe meaning to being in those places. And somehow, that had made it okay.
What I realized then is that somewhere along the way, I apparently had stopped looking for meaning in my experiences.
Noticing that I had, at least in one way, been more grown-up earlier in my life was strange. My narrative is that I’m continuously growing, so of course, my current self should be doing a better job at anything (except maybe high school algebra) than my younger self.
The only problem with that narrative? At least in this particular case, it didn’t seem to be the truth.
I had become jaded, in some ways.
I had expected things to always be good, instead of committing to finding the nugget of gold that is meaning within a trash pile of negative experiences.
Us humans, we’re meaning-making creatures.
Without meaning, life is… meaningless.
If the unexamined life is not worth living, as Socrates apparently uttered, the meaningless life surely isn’t either.
And, meaning is not something that just happens. It’s a commitment. It’s a choice.
Upon realizing my oversight, I committed to searching for meaning in what I was struggling with at the time. Even the idea that there could be meaning, that my challenges could be good for something, was enough to once again lift my spirits.
Such is the power of meaning.
P.S.: What’s the meaning behind the Spiderman picture above? I just thought it was so fun I had to share it when I found it.