A Life with Meaning

The Bushman storytellers talk about two kinds of hunger.
They say there is a physical hunger, then what they call
the Great Hunger.
That is the hunger for meaning.
There is only one thing that is truly insufferable,
and that is a life without meaning.
There is nothing wrong with the search for happiness.
But there is something great —
meaning —
which transfigures all.
When you have meaning you are content,
you belong.

-Sir Laurens van der Post in the documentary Hasten Slowly

I’ve never heard of this documentary, but someone clued me into this quote today and I love it. I wonder, for me, if life will have enough meaning if I don’t have kids. Hmmmmm… no matter how big the idea, the rest really sort-of exists for me like killing time. Look at Katia’s blog and you can see the transformation I’m pointing to. (Plus the pictures of that baby are just so darned cute you have to see them!) I remember when Wendy became a Mom, too, and it happened for her as well. And these are the things, the moments, where I feel meaning has lived for me… in friends and family, in Zach and being a stepmom, in selected students and moments when I’ve been teaching… in old loves and big adventures…

What gives life meaning for you?

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. Hey!

    Thanks so much for visiting my little (other) home on the web and your delightful comment. It is good to be gotten don’t you think?

    I love this quote… Just sums it all up so well — the search for meaning that is… Have you read Man’s Search for Meaning? Wonderful, insightful book. That quote made me think of it… Today, what gave my life meaning, was your comment, making chicken soup for my sick little boy, and re-designing small circles. Little (big) things.

    Also — do you know Women for Women International? They do some amazing making a difference work with women in war-torn countries, including Iraq and Afganistan. Perhaps there is a fit with the conference you are creating. What an amazing idea… I can see a “Women, Freedom of Expression and the Middle East” acamdemic travel already. 😉


    I love that I get to re-enjoy living in Lugano through your site…


  2. I saw Laurens Vander Post speak in Boulder before he died. He was in his 90’s and it was one of the greatest spiritual experiences I have had.

    Meaning, yes. That’s what it’s all about. Thanks for the reminder. It’s been a tough couple of weeks for me, having my family go back home after the wedding, dealing with Luchi’s sleeping routine which has meant waking up at 5:30 AM most mornings, and generally feeling a huge gaping lack of community here. I’m lonely, despite my beautiful child and wonderful husband. And I feel like I just want to kick myself in the ass and be happy already. It probably doesn’t get any better than this. I wonder when I will stop mourning my community in Boulder and if I will ever find/create something like that for myself here.

    By all means, claim Luchi for your own. It takes a village after all. She is gorgeous and cute all the time and I take hundreds of pictures of her and that’s why I get 5 or 6 good ones. Pete is going to kill me if I don’t get iPhoto cleaned up. We have over 5,000 pictures slowing up the computer. Aiee.

    I love living your life vicariously. Thank you for sharing. These pictures who’ve posted are beautiful. I can feel the love.

  3. I have found a very personal meaning in my sport… and writing about it truly completes me, it has meaning.. its small on an essentail scale, but its the most pure melding of the gifts I have..

    if I were just an athlete, it would be selfish, but I have experiences all the time that tell me how I live my life has an impact..

    I just had a 22 year old canadian, a few days back from skating at inline speedskating world championships, ask me seriously about the pro’s & con’s of taking that HUGE step over the cliff of pursuing his passion full time.. he is good enough to truly dream…

    I have guys my age tell me that they read what I write, and it inspires them to step out the door & chase their own dreams (not just on skates)…

    my meaning is a hunger, and a constant meal at the same time, its training for years to face a few seconds of astonishing pain & terror, with nothing certain, risking pysical injury & extreme dissapointment..

    but I can tell you that the intense joy when the scoreboard tells you something beautiful in hard numbers, (no friggin judges, no interpretation) can be almost as powerful an emotional experience as getting married (really… I felt like that the first international record I skated)

    Someday I will be transformed by kids as well.. this meaning must be temporary, and it is ending in a few months.. but for right now, I drive to the rink every day hungry, well fed, full of meaning…..

    I am incredibly lucky… and at peace with myself…

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