why

The Meaning of Life

Before I knew details about the United Nations or anything to do with the rights listed in the Declaration of Human rights, I had an innate desire to help. I knew about wars and all that was going on in the world and I wondered where the keys to solving these issues were.

More importantly, I was starting to move away from the idea that I had something to prove. I didn’t have to be perfect to make it in this world. Eventually, I would conclude that I didn’t need to be or prove anything to anyone. I would exist just as I am. The world would just have to deal with it.

This photo, “How Could I Resist?” is copyright (c) 2014 Michael Coghlan and made available under an Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license

This poem was written on August 15th, 2004. I was 14-years-old and a freshman in high school

The Meaning of Life

Is life too boring to live?
Does it seem like you spend all your time in your room
dreaming of leaving,
of truly living?
What is life but many days and nights?
Why do we feel we must make something of ourselves?
Why prove ourselves to the world?
Make the world prove itself to us.
the world is hurt, the world is falling
Polluted and war-torn,
angry and vengeful.
Your father hates their father so you hate them?
Is this life?
Every day we go deeper
The darkness gets greater
People cry “Help! Pull us to the light.”
or is it your that cry?
why shouldn’t you pull them to the light?
Why not our generation?
Why not now?

Wasn’t I a hopeful little teenager? I may have had my own darkness and self-doubt, but I saw the world around me as a place ready for change. I used to think to myself that I would gladly shoulder all the world’s sadness if it meant everyone could be happy.

For a while, I actually thought that was something I could do for the people around me. The atrocity that was my second boyfriend would finally end that dream. It was childish to think that one person could shoulder the burdens of so many people. Equally childish was the idea that such assistance would erase darkness from another’s life. I can help people through their struggles, but I can’t overcome their burdens for them.

Where was 14-year-old TK when 16-year-old TK started that poor excuse for a relationship? This poem proves I knew better.

Reading this poem, is it any surprise that I would grow up to study journalism and human rights in college? I loved writing and I had moved on from being the victim to being someone who wanted to help victims. My back bone was solidifying, as was the path I would take in the future.

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27 thoughts on “The Meaning of Life”

  1. The 14 year old knew conceptually, but not practically. I think that we have to experience some things in a way that words simply cannot teach. Kierkegaard: “Life has its own hidden forces which you can only discover by living.”

    1. I agree. There was a part of me that understood what I wanted out of life, but I hadn’t experience what that something was to give it a name. That’s why there were so many questions. I just couldn’t quite define what I wanted… but I was trying to find out.

  2. Interesting post. I support the idea that our world is in need of change, but i’m not sure what you mean having the world prove itself to us. In a way, we make the world what it is, so what the world proves to us is what we make it ourselves.
    Aul

    1. I think that line came from how I felt I needed to prove myself to the world. I felt like I was expected to be perfect and that I was worth nothing until I achieved that. Then, I realized that was stupid. The world isn’t perfect. Why should it be making such high demands of me when it can’t achieve those same qualities? If anything, the world should prove itself to me. Prove it’s worth living in. Prove it’s worth changing.

      The end point is, I don’t have to prove myself to anyone.

      1. Yeah, but you make the world what it is. I think, in regards to the world proving that it’s worth living in, you should try to make the world worth living in for the people to come. I still feel like we’re not getting each other, or I’m not getting yours :)
        Aul

  3. I *so* relate to you. Isn’t that funny, when we are teenagers we are so full of zealous passion that we believe we can just place our foot down and change the world? I remember feeling this way. I feel like I am still working through what that even means.

    1. I think most of us who don’t give up, will always be asking what it means to change the world. We’ll never lose are lust for questions because each answer will only bring more questions.

  4. Is it possible to change the world, when we are constantly changing ourselves?
    Some say I’m old enough to know better, but my experience has shown me that once I say I know something…a paradigm shift may be just around the corner, which for all intents and purposes will send me off in another direction.
    Personally, I like what the Good Book says, “why try to take the speck out of someone else s eye, when you have a plank in your own?”
    Of late, my school of thought is; leave the world to God…my job is to make sure my relationship is right with Him and then He will show me how to deal (or not deal) with the world. ~ Dave

    1. Well said. That’s why we should be wary of anything that claims to provide all the answers. There will always be questions left unanswered because we and the world are constantly changing.

  5. “I can help people through their struggles, but I can’t overcome their burdens for them.” This statement in and of itself is the world. To me it applies to both the individual’s responsibility as well as entire groups of people. Regardless of how much money, time, energy and effort is put into a situation when helping others, it is in the end the “others” responsibility to carry that on. The world is constantly changing and so are we. Whether we are changing because of the world or in spite of it, we do change. What the world has proven to me is that it needs me, even when I believe I don’t need it anymore.

    1. Yes. It also means we can do all we can to help or change people, but if they don’t want the change, they’ll stay the same. We can help all we want, but our effort alone isn’t enough to fix much.

  6. It’s interesting the amount of questions in your poem. I find that often in my early writing too. How odd that we ask less, feel that we know more when we are older and speak in fact and rhetoric. How bizarre that means we are even further from the truth than when we were young.

    1. This whole blog is built on the questions I ask myself every day. I still have plenty of questions. I agree with you, though. So long as we keep questioning, we move closer and closer to truth. When we think we’ve found a final answer, we’re probably pretty far away from real truth.

    1. Very true. But I think we go through a period where we think fairy tales are possible and just by our effort alone, we can change people. It’s an ignorance we have to grow out of.

      1. Yes absolutely, and I think we are also socially maneuvered to believe that in some ways. We are raised in a society where we are taught that one can make all the difference but that working together is also important. It takes some growing up to find out what the meanings and personal relevance is.

  7. TK you have a lot of insights that show your hearts true self. Don’t ever ever lose that. In fact I would tell you guard it with all your power to do so. The world constantly battles us to change into a mold other than the one we are; though change is necessary not all change is upwards change not downwards.

    I love that line where you said, “Eventually, I would conclude that I didn’t need to be or prove anything to anyone. I would exist just as I am. The world would just have to deal with it.”

    Great thought. It is not naive. It is stupid of us to think that we need to fit into a mold to follow orders blindly why because that’s just the way its done! Wrong! That madness was part of Germany’s problem not the whole but in allowing Hitler to come to power. As individuals we are never going to fit, or become cookie cutter people or dolls who’s skin is air brushed on. (though we may be getting close). Individuality is by essence the spark that cries out ‘I am me’. The rest of our life is either one discovering who that person is or it is one bent on destroying that person to fit whatever for whatever reasons. The greatest crime a person can do is allow that spark to die or be destroyed.

    1. I used to think that I didn’t fit in the world. I would tell myself the world wasn’t ready for someone like me, yet. For a while, this made me sad. Eventually, I decided the world would just have to put up with me because I wasn’t going anyway. I was going to make my mark and no amount of pressure would stop me.

      Those are very lofty thoughts, considering I didn’t have a solid definition of who I was, what the world was or the pressures that worked against me. I just knew all three existed and that I had to maintain my definition despite the others.

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