Why are you here?
Not just, why are you wherever you happen to be, reading this book on this particular day? But why are you—the individual you are—on this earth? Why do you exist? Why do you not exist? What’s your purpose? What is going to bring you the most joy, peace, and satisfaction in the blip of time you’ve got here with the rest of us before you head on?
There may be times—huge chunks of time, even years—during which we think we can dismiss that question, or that the answer seems too obvious for comment. Perhaps life keeps us too busy to think about it, or perhaps we purposefully avoid it. But most of us have to face the question at some point, because life has a habit of forcing us to do so.
Several years ago, I was sitting at the dentist’s office, waiting for a routine appointment. For some reason that day, I was thinking about life’s meaning and faith and such matters and was at a point of throwing up my hands, in a relatively cheerful kind of way, at the complexity of it all. Maybe it didn’t all need to be so complex. Maybe I should stop worrying, be happy, live and let live, and not stress so much about the big questions. Maybe I shouldn’t even worry so much about the spiritual stuff, with all of those hints of “sacrifice.” Life is good. Why not enjoy it?
Then a woman rushed in, announced herself at the reception desk, and was told that her appointment was actually the following week. Frazzled, she breathlessly said, in a torrent of words, “Oh, I’m sorry. I was nine months pregnant, then last week the baby just died. I’m not really thinking straight.” And she rushed out. Like a heavy, damp cloud, the big picture rushed back in, and the questions reasserted themselves again, loudly, like an unexpected late summer storm.