We sometimes wonder if the choices we made are the right ones and how different choices will affect our lives. For someone who seeks spiritual salvation, there are several well-established and time-proven religions of faith to choose from. For those who are looking for guidance to a prosperous and harmonious lifestyle, there are schools of philosophy to choose from. There are people who:
1) Have won the Nobel prize,
2) Have become unimaginably wealthy,
3) Have committed unspeakable evil acts,
4) Have devoted the entire life to raising a family,
5) Have drink, dance, and partying the whole life, etc.
Is there a single yardstick or the absolute standard that we can rely on to evaluate whose life is more meaningful and what is the better way of living?
Before a person reaches adulthood, the choices in life - what food to eat, clothes to wear, school to go to, friends to play with, etc. - are mainly made for the person by other people. When a person achieves mental and physical maturity, one is usually free to choose how to spend the rest of the life:
1) A person may want to be an educator, a lawyer, an astronaut, a professional singer, etc. But, soon one will realize that one can only choose to be what one is supposed to be.
2) A person may choose to have many friends to share common interests, ideals, and desires. But, due to economical, political, and social influences, a person is lucky to find one close friend that lasts for a lifetime.
3) A person may want to live a long, productive, and meaningful life. But, all that depends on external forces - genetics, environment, etc. - that the person has no control of.
A person’s life is not defined by the choices one made but by the choices that are available for the person to make.
In the animal world, it is survival by any means at any cost, and each living thing’s existence is checked and balanced by Nature’s ecosystem. In the man-made world, the game of life has become more complex and unpredictable as it is no longer just to survive and reproduce:
1) Some people want to know when and how life started and is there an end to life,
2) Some people are only interested in making money and enjoying the material comfort,
3) Some people prefer a simple family life adhering faithfully to the religious doctrine,
4) Some people have no choice but to follow a path of crime and punishment,
5) Some people are destined to be rich and famous because of their innate talent and special capability.
In the man-made world, the competition to make a living is fierce and merciless, yet new opportunities are also abundant and reachable for those who can work hard. To find a mate and raise a family is not difficult, yet to meet someone and share a long-lasting and happy family is a rarity. What a person can accomplish in life is defined by Nature and refined by Nurture.
What a person does and accomplishes may affect the life of not only the surrounding people but also the people around the globe, and sometimes, the future generations. The obvious examples are the inventors, the leaders of a nation, the mass murderers, the movie stars, the religious leaders, the financial swindlers, etc. The not-so-obvious examples are the hard-working parents, the tireless factory workers, the dedicated teachers, the caring nurses, etc.
Who is to say whose life is more important and meaningful as no one has a choice to be what one is and limited choices to be who one can be. Natural phenomena may seem to have occurred at random and by chance without purpose, but we have learned that they all can be explained by physical laws, mathematical formulas, and environmental conditions. We may think that we have many choices to live our lives and change the future to our liking, but we have learned that nothing will work without following and understanding those 3 criteria.
Our solar system was formed from a cloud of gaseous dust that contained the essential chemical elements for the developments of the animated as well as the inanimated matters. The Sun was formed first followed by the planets around it. All these continuous, incessant, and chaotic activities occurred randomly but were guided by the physical laws and mathematical equations.
When the dust finally settled and the structure of our solar system stabilized, our planet, Earth, turned out to be the only one having all the right conditions that allowed life to germinate, flourish, and evolve. With the advancement of our civilization, we learn that in the Universe, there are billions of solar systems like ours in a typical galaxy and there are billions of galaxies in the Universe. But, there are only a tiny fraction of those solar systems with planets that have the right conditions to harbor intelligent life. The physical laws and mathematical equations do not dictate where the intelligent life will be but how many intelligent life there will be.
There are many intelligent living things on Earth. We are the only ones who possess the designs to uncover and understand those hidden laws and equations that dictate how things are and what they can be. We are just beginning to scratch the surface of this grand scheme. Each of us is born slightly different with different physical and mental capabilities. Through our combined unique traits, we will one day unravel the mysteries of life and come face to face with the absolute meaning and purpose of our existence on this tiny and insignificant planet inside the vastness of the Universe.