New MeaningWhat creates meaning in our lives? On an even higher plane, what is the meaning of life?

Well, I’m not prepared to answer the latter question, but I am prepared to contemplate the process that creates meaning for us on a human level. Clearly our vertical connection with God and our horizontal connection with our fellow man provide the context for all meaning. After all, in the big picture, it is relationships that create and define the keys to a meaningful life. But what about the smaller picture?

How do individual moments in our lives combine to create overall meaning?

Shannon Alder said, “Nothing is too small to be a mistake.” I agree. It is a combination and cumulative effect of the small things of life combined with memorable moments that compose the mosaic of our lives. It is the emotional connection symbolized by an event or object that lingers with us for decades and allows us to not only remember, but to place ourselves back in the event, or moment. We have connections that take us back, and interestingly, connections that propel us forward.

For example, each of us can visualize times, places, and events from our past that evoke pain and pleasure. As I sit here, I’m thinking about my Grandfather Hekman who died when I was 4. I remember sitting on the floor of the living room in his cottage on Lake Michigan. My Grandmother was in the kitchen fixing lunch and Grandpa and I were on all fours playing “Hats Off”. “Hats Off” is a game where you roll a ball at men attached to a horizontal swivel and try to knock off their hats– thus the name. That moment of caring and bonding is still with me today and shapes my thinking about what it means to be a Grandfather. He was willing to connect at my level and that showed he both loved and cared. There is more about our relationship that I’ll save for another day.

I also remember the pain of my brother’s death. His “look” as he was passing is a visual memory that, to this day, shapes my view of AIDS and suffering– whether we are talking about AIDS here in the US or in Africa. This memory extends to my visualization of the terrible death associated with our most recent epidemic, Ebola. There is that “look” that is as real to me as any current photo from Zambia. I feel it, it impacts me, it shapes my humanity. The Playwright Henry Miller was wrong when he said, “Life has to be given a meaning because of the obvious fact that it has no meaning.”

There are also visual memories associated with events that have taken on almost universal significance. The picture of the aircraft carrier Arizona burning in Pearl Harbor. The little girl, naked, and running from the horrors of Nagasaki. The Marines erecting the flag on Iwo Jima. John John during the Kennedy funeral procession for his dad. The devastation of the Twin Towers in New York. Each of these images not only evoke strong memories and feelings, but they serve to promote the narrative of the events that occurred. They also inform the narrative as we think about the future. That narrative includes “never again,” and “we must be prepared.”

It is the emotional connection we have with people, places and things that create memorable moments in our lives.

I was prompted to think about these issues as our team at Envoy Financial ponders how we connect the important and valuable activities of preparing financially for our future with the emotional drivers that dictate our priorities and actions. In other words, how we choose to respond to all that “stuff” of life. The fact that we decide with our emotions and act with our will is not up for debate. Connecting our action plan to event triggers that will prompt a journey of discovery and preparation is worth considering. To the degree that we can “figure it out” can play a large part in our preparation for future ministry, which after all, means “changed lives.”

Stay tuned as we continue to explore the “meaning” of meaning and discover our own unique life’s purpose.

I invite you to share a bit about what life moments or memories have shaped the way you view the world in the comments section. What has impacted you?

Living with Trusted Advice together,


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