Monday, June 21, 2010

Of Meaning

Meaning, that on which it all hinges.
Accept, inhaling meaning.
Expression, exhaling meaning.
Gift, meaning passed from me to you.

I hand you a book wrapped in paper. I do not know you. You hand me a piece of paper, and walk away. A book bought, a transaction. Particles collided, interaction completed, immediately forgotten.
I hand you a book wrapped in paper. I do know you. You hand me a piece of card, and we walk together. A gift given, a relationship deepened. Expression of humanity, exchange completed, feeling ever binding us.

You see, a gift mediates meaning. If there is no meaning - a corporate gift, a free pen, a loyalty bonus - there is no gift. A gift is anti-free; it is binding. There is no greater love than that between mother and child, we are told. It derives largely from an evolved need for the mother to protect her offspring, true. But come here and look at it this way: she gives the gift of life to her child, the gift of protection and nourishment with her own body, to produce a child helplessly dependent upon her continuing to give. The bond is deep, and the meaning absolute; the meaning of new life.

The Jews were given the gift of freedom from oppression, the Christians were further given the Son of God, who gave them redemption - for God so loved the world he gave. This, the essence of the power of their stories.

So, if to be human is to live meaningfully, then to live is to give. What you give is largely immaterial, only it must be meaningful to you. If you have no time, give some that you do not have to your family. If you seek significance at work, give yourself to it or find a new position in which you can.

Meaning, inner significance.
Significance, difficulty of sacrifice.
Gift, my sacrifice made manifest, in offerance to you.

Who is my neighbour, someone once asked a Nazarene. The Samaritan that gave comfort and healing to a dying Jew, when his priest did not. The body on the road meant nothing to the priest, and he saw no value in it. The Samaritan saw value in the human life, and sacrificed his own resource to support it. Who is my friend, then? Look at your friends; are they not arbitrary? Who are they that you are so close to them but people who you happened to meet at school or work, accidents of geography and family history. But you could not replace them now, because of your shared history, the depth of your bond. You have given time to each other, gifts, love, support. You have listened to their troubles, they have salved your pain.

Medical professionals can kill your physical pain, but you need friends for your emotional hurt. When you grieve, can pills help like the reassuring hand on your shoulder?

Friend, someone now significant you have built a relationship with.
Bond, emotional history that binds you together.
Sacrifice, voluntarily giving up something significant, for the sake of meaning.
Gift, my sacrifice given to you, offering to bind us closer.

So, Meaning, then? Inner significance. And Gifts? My sacrifice, dedication of something significant to me, to deepen our relationship. Gifts mediate meaning.

What is the meaning of life? Given. Over and over, for all time.

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