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On Significance

This afternoon, I visited the Galleria Nazionale Dell’Umbria. This museum houses some of the artwork Perugia is most proud of. The art is primarily composed of Byzantine and Renaissance period works.

Looking at others’ life accomplishments and spiritual expression is a serious activity. We are given the opportunity to share a part of someone’s life hundreds of years after their death. This leaves our own significance and the products of our own life in question.

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The Virgin Mary

In the short time I’ve been here, my friends and I have had time to ask and discuss some of life’s most important questions. We’ve reached the end of our first month abroad and lost the traveler’s high. What are we leaving behind? What am I supposed to gain from these experiences? Why am I here? Not that we’re great philosophers, but I think our ruminations are worth writing down.

These questions come out of the human awareness that we all have an expiration date. There is a fear of the unknown and the imminent. I’ve found that the places of purpose, hope, and buoyancy differ for each person.

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San Sebastian

Many people turn to religion, art, careers, family, and relationships to find significance. We find something that gives our death a positive outcome; religion. We achieve false immortality; art and careers. Finally, we define ourselves within our sphere of influence; family and relationships.

Other’s take a different path entirely. “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everyone is gonna die,” Morty Smith. The complete lack of significance can be the very thing that gives us the hope and peace to make it through another day.

Personally, the most hopeful phrase I’ve ever read is a line from J.M. Barry’s Peter Pan.

“To die will be an awfully big adventure”.

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Illustration by Trina Hyman

Peter does not question his life. Life has inherent significance. The products of his life aren’t his to worry about; they’re for those left behind to do with as they please. The final realization is that death is just as much a part of life as birth.

In our subjective experience we feel that if everything is significant, nothing has significance. And that’s just defeatist. The purpose of life is to live. It’s simple. Don’t think too hard about it.

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2 comments

  1. Pingback: Archeology and Assisi | girl412blog
  2. rossboone · February 25

    Such good, deep thoughts, Libby!
    I like the idea of living the best life we can live, in this very day, every day. And realizing that death may be just as amazing, even if just for the surprise it will bring- even if it’s just a cliff of unconsiousness. Bam. Life. Who knew? Beautiful.

    I think like you said, every moment has as much significance as we choose to see in it. And by choosing to see every moment the same, we can see all moments as either monotonous, or, all a series of sacred moments leading to an eternal holiness. I’m so grateful for the freedom to look at it as we choose. We are given the autonomy to choose our perspectives on life. And to live life how we choose!

    Wow, i want and use the word “buoyancy” like you did.

    And I agree, to move forward through this life with beauty hope and boldness, to live the adventures that call to us, to seek out the beauty in any moment we so choose (even if it is within pain). What an unspeakably holy privilege. And to die, will be a whole new dimension of adventure. A great blind leap into the great unknown. And to some day walk with the great black rabbit into whatever land he unveils and points us to, will be another great adventure.

    “My heart has joined the Thousand, for my friend stopped running today.” -Watership Down

    Keep seeking and thinking deeply, Libby! Hopefully we will enjoy some more moments together in the same place, cherishing this life, before that great black rabbit comes!

    Like

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