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  • Bob Ginsberg

What's the Point?

     Admittedly, my long-term memory often has significant gaps, but as I recall we had three hundred guests at our wedding in 1974. As is often the case at such affairs, there were  people in attendance that neither my wife nor I knew, which I remember thinking was quite absurd.


     On my walk this morning I started thinking about how many people that were there fifty years ago still walk this earth. Certainly, there are very few, if any, among the generation above me that are still here, except for my dad who will be ninety-seven next month. I still am fortunate to have fond memories of my aunts, uncles, and grandparents that were there, even though I can’t be sure how much I actually remember versus being told the same stories over the years.


     I then thought about my nine-year-old grandson who, except for my dad, does not know that these people ever existed. It can be a sobering thought that we are remembered for a maximum of three generations, and then it is as if we never existed. Sure, there are some people that enjoy great fame during their life, especially political figures, celebrities, and the greats of sports, music, and the arts, and they can be researched on the internet. However, even then it is extracting data and accomplishments, but do we really know the essence of who they were?


     We can choose to look at this reality in two diverse ways. On the one hand, we might see our lives as pointless, with little purpose and meaning. After all, what is the point of going through life, with all its ups and downs, if we are mere whispers in the wind? Sure, some people become “immortalized” through accomplishments, but what about the rest of us?


     Conversely, who is to say that accomplishments are the only measure of our worth. I was always a believer in the “Butterfly Effect,” and how seemingly insignificant actions can reverberate throughout the universe. Sometimes a simple act of kindness, or showing compassion for another, can be more powerful than winning a Super Bowl. What if I give up my seat on a train to someone who truly needs it, and that person decides to pass it on? What if I provide counsel to a sad or grieving person who is contemplating ending their life, and that person later goes on to do remarkable things? What if a simple hug can restore someone’s faith in humanity?


     When my wife was dying, the hospice nurse asked me if I had any questions before she left. In my half-hearted attempt at humor, I replied “Yes, what is the meaning of life?” The nurse was startled by the question and simply replied that it was a tough one to answer. My wife then chimed in, “Actually the answer is quite simple, it’s to leave this world a better place.” I have come to believe that she was right.


     So, what incentive is there to leave this world a better place, especially if you believe that you are extinguished forever at death? Well, concern and love for your children and future generations might be a motivator. Or the simple fact that exhibiting love and compassion towards others makes you feel good. And, if you only have one shot at this, why not find meaning in being the best person you can be?


     On the other hand, there are many who believe that we are all connected to each other, as we come from the same single spark of life. Admittedly, this may be hard to grasp, especially when you look around the world today, but that is no reason to stop trying to make it better through your actions. Those who believe that our consciousness survives physical death, and that our actions while here can affect our starting points in the next dimension, have a huge advantage over those who summarily dismiss such thoughts as fantasy.


     Whether one chooses to admit or recognize that we are all essentially beings of love and compassion, we are. Perhaps this recognition does not materialize until we have the vantage point of greater perspective in the next world, but our thoughts and actions never stop echoing throughout the universe.

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