How Do You Justify Your Existence?

When I was considerably younger, I had a circle of friends who would get together once a month, and discuss items relevant to our lives at the time. Each meeting would start off with a question – “How do you justify your life?” We would then go round robin around the table, giving our answers, and receiving comments and questions in return. We were all survivors of some calamity or tragedy, be it war, physical trauma, a major illness – a happenstance from which not all walked away. This exercise proved to be not only useful, but life altering for many of us. It gave us a chance to acknowledge our good fortune, remind ourselves that our survival was not necessarily due to our skills and preparation for life events, but more to random chance (or to a few in the group, Fate, or God’s will; I was never quite sure which was the more terrible.) What we all shared was a sense of obligation to ourselves, and the rest of the world, to give something back for our good fortune, to give meaning to being survivors.
This by no means is a new theme. It has been addressed by many over the years, notably by Victor Frankl in his book, “Man’s Search for Meaning.” It’s part of the essence of being human that we seek to find a narrative that makes sense of the randomness of life. For those of us who sat around that table, the answers were all different, but all contained a common theme – one of service to others. Some of us chose to provide service through our choice of professions; doctor, teacher, policeman, butcher (dispensing philosophy with his cuts of meat.) Others chose to serve through family, church, or community; lifetime care of a brother with Down’s syndrome, Kiwani’s, Lion’s, foreign missions. What we all shared was a sense that we had been given a gift, and we had the need to give back.
Sadly, our group has long separated, scattered around the country and the globe. Some of us never returned from serving our country; others have fallen to the ravages of disease and time. Still, the question we used to ask of each other, I continue to ask of myself – “How do you justify your life?” You need not share the answer with anyone other than yourself. However, it is a useful exercise to remind ourselves of all that we have to be grateful for, what we choose as our expression of gratitude, and the ways in which we are all connected to each other.
Be well,
J.

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9 Responses to How Do You Justify Your Existence?

  1. Beth Marie says:

    “How do you justify your life?” I like this. I think the world leaders should sit together in a circle holding hands and answer this question. 😉 Never happen.

  2. kat magendie says:

    Hi Jorge – been a while since I stopped by and I see you are still wonderful.

    My thoughts have changed since my granddaughter arrived two years ago. But that’s still a difficult question to answer . . .

  3. Jane says:

    I am a mother of 6 and grandmother of 5. I have also nurtured many non-biological children who call me “Mom”. I feel that my connections with and love and support of others is what defines me and gives reward and meaning to my life. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving 🙂

  4. Holy says:

    What matters
    matters
    but it doesn’t

    Some of the time
    everything
    matters

    Much of the time
    nothing
    matters

    In the long run
    both everything
    and nothing

    matter a lot

    ~ James Broughton ~

    * which brings me to my own answer….that floundering spot between doing everything and nothing to justify my existence, depending on the day, the hour, the moment. So some days, it’s a just-ification, on select days, it’s a must-ification; and on the delish ones, it’s a lust-ification, and on still others, it’s more like a rust or dust-ification. Which is to say, it’s a philosophical battle most of the time.

    I’d love to read your own tale some time – I really don’t know your story from decades ago. Do post someday.

  5. Jana ♥ says:

    Hi Jorge. I think there is something in us human beeings that we want to help probably even more when we go through difficult times and survive it. At least in most of us. If I would try to answer the question I would get into deep meaning of life which I am still searching for. 🙂

  6. lamsmith0609 says:

    Great and thoughtful entry, Jorge! I believe that we are (obviously) truly here to further our human existence, and to help others. I love this Bible passage, and follow it diligently –>
    Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody. 1 Thessalonians 4:11,12 NIV
    I love it because then you will help others, and an inner happiness washes over you. That’s it, so terribly simple.
    (On a completely different note: I have decided to pick up blogging again this year. I am done being angry and resentful with MSN/Wordpress for the changes they made during the move WAY last year. As far as I was (and am) concerned they ruined something I had worked very hard on for many years. I still don’t know where all my photo albums have gone off to… embarrassed face. Honestly…. )

  7. Gelert says:

    How do I justify my life…. ? Oh, Jorge, I can’t answer that. I’ve managed to get so very much wrong. Your blog posts always make me think, but this one will take a bit more time.

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