How to Find Meaning in Life: Is There Really A Purpose Behind Our Everyday Experiences?
Ever heard the phrase: "Nothing Happens by Accident?"
Sitting in the Starbucks off 23rd street in Portland, my daughter and I are together but happily ignoring each other. We both are finishing our respective final week projects. It’s a strange thing to be in college at the same time as your adult child. Not that it’s a bad thing, It just seems like we are peers though we are definitely not. I sip my venti House coffee, five pumps peppermint and cream. Suddenly she remembers her blessed Iphone. This thing is a part of her, be it a left eye, or pinkie toe, it’s as connected to her as any natural body part. She does not go anywhere without it. But, I must admit, she got it from her Momma, I rarely leave without mine either.
As usual, I offer to call her phone; the ringing will alert her to its hidden locale. I type in 503…. Oops, I missed a number, try it again. I type in 503….. oops, wrong again, She rifles through her book bag and digs about in her hippie-chick multicolored satchel. I erase and retype 5…… oops, again, I missed a keystroke ... “it’s fine Mom, I’m just going to look in the car”. As I see her heading away from the table, a strange thought goes through my mind; maybe I wasn’t supposed to reach her phone, maybe it’s her destiny to walk out to the parking lot, and fate or providence meant it that way. No matter how hard I tried to fix the problem for her, she was meant to leave at that very moment in time. As she reached the coffee shop door to exit, I finally get the number right, but too late, she’s out and headed for the parking lot.
Does everything happen for a reason? Is every millisecond accounted for? I look about the shop and wonder what series of events did our arrival, her loss of phone, my inability to help her locate it, and all of the other millions and billions of little actions made by me and all of the other coffee shop dwellers have in the grand scheme of life? Seemingly mundane, but just possibly profound? A thought crossed my mind again, if I had stopped her, would it make a ripple in time and rip a hole in the order of things, like some late night Star Trek episode? Would it create such a disturbance that a Butterfly Effect would occur and the unseen things of the world would take control of the seen?
I opened a new word document and began to type these thoughts you see here now. Looking around, I wondered again what change has all this made? Should I expect a real life Dr. Who episode to transform the scene? One man looks up and meets my gaze, we both politely smile then look in opposite directions. Nope, nothing else. Thank God, who knows what would have happened if I had actually stopped her? A Worm hole might have formed, and then, life as we knew it might have ended? Hmmm... Maybe not. At that exact moment, She walks back in with phone in hand, sits readjusts her laptop, and begins to finish her paper.
Slightly disappointed that no profound revelation, special chance meeting, unbelievable coincidence, and certainly no grand lessons was gained from this. Just another missing phone incident. I questioned was Newtons third law correct, does each action actually have an equal or opposite reaction? Does it really matter? And also, my original question came once again, is there actually a reasons for everything that happens? I was just about to move on to finish the homework that was gently calling my name when I realized something…
Her misplaced phone, my curiosity, her leaving to locate said phone, my writing these events, her return to finish homework, the meaningless meeting of eyes with a total stranger and our courteous but contagious smiles, my notice of nothing great to write home about except these thoughts, and lastly; You, yes, you reading this now. Whether you are near 23rd street in Portland, Oregon or far away in Bora Bora, meaningless events do have purpose. They cause us to ponder our existence, interact with others, acknowledge our humanity, communicate with words or even just a smile, act and react. Each of us has a purpose, and even in the seeming chaos or meaninglessness of everyday life: There is something that connects us all and Someone with a plan...
He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.