I recently shared some quality one-on-one time with my sister. She admitted to me that I had said some things to her of late that she found offensive. I asked her what it was that I had said that she found insulting. She brought up an incident where I had tried to talk her into traveling with her kids as a way of using the globe as a classroom. She felt I had not listened to her as she had repeatedly told me that she wanted to be near medical facilities due to the limitations of one of her children. I apologized for not listening and gave her a code word to tell me to shut up and listen, but deep down I knew that I had brought up the idea because I was fantasizing about having (a) travel companion(s).
On Thanksgiving, my father seemed a bit concerned about my intentions to travel throughout 2015 and he recalled a generation when life goals were as simple as just getting married and raising children.
Later, my mother made some comments to me about how my sister was wasting her life raising kids instead of having gone to school and having the opportunity to travel the way I have now. I told her that the kids gave her life meaning and that she would be very angry to hear my mother speak so. My mother replied that this was just between she and I and that my life of travel has meaning too. I was struck by this comment because sometimes I feel guilty about how many pleasurable experiences I have in my life and what little suffering I have in my life. Surely, a life raising children, feeding the homeless and whatnot is more valuable than the life of pleasure I live…? Then, it occurred to me that my mother is right…My life has meaning even if I don’t have children.
Each life has its value. Though the experiences each individual may choose to fill each moment varies, each choice is an expression of love for life. Each day, we wake up and fill our plate with a diverse palette of experience to express our love. My life has meaning because I have joie de virve, just as a mother watching her children smile 400 times per day (Did you know children smile over 400 times per day but adults smile less than 20 times per day?) possesses vitality and appreciation because the purpose of life is to express love in so many distinct means!