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Friday, January 11, 2008



The Meaning of Life

When I was a young child, I was told many things. I heard that my name was Brad Blackstone, that in my hometown my family was a good family, well respected and important. I also heard that I was an American, that the "American way" was very special, and that Americans on the world stage were well respected and important. I also attended church, learned that I was a Christian, and heard that Christians were good people, well respected and important among the religious people on the earth.

As I grew older into my teenage years, I wondered about what I had learned, and I tried to discern between the facts and opinions. I looked at the world around me, observed people and images on TV, in movies, amongst my schoolmates, teachers, relatives and my neighbors. I listened closely to the leaders of my country and to other leaders in the world. I read news, analysis, history and literature, and I began to wonder how I could measure the truth of what I had learned in the light of what I had observed. I passed my teenage years during the height of America's conflict with Vietnam (a real war) and the Soviet Union (the so-called Cold War), I witnessed the loss of leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Kennedy brothers, and I grew restless during the youth movement of the 1960s. I became inspired by the march for "civil rights" and by the advance of both the environmental and anti-war movements.

It was at that juncture, sometime during my mid to late teens, that I became interested in seeing the world for myself. I wanted to test my developing hypotheses, political, social, economic and cultural, with my own senses.I was no longer content to just follow my elders. I wanted to seize the day.

Since that time, I have covered lots of territory. Since leaving the comfort of my small hometown in Ohio, I have studied in a big American metropolis (Columbus, Ohio) and in the capital of the Soviet Union (Moscow). I have lived and worked in America, Portugal, Malaysia, Japan, and now Singapore. I have met many new friends, loved and been loved, raised my own family and suffered the loss of loved ones. Many people have taught me many things, both good and bad, wondrous and ugly. I have, in a sense, learned the ways of the world. So what then gives this life meaning for me?

Among other important people, you do. Our paths now run side by side. For this moment in time, we are sharing air.

Every positive encounter that we have, every bright person we meet, every new dream that we hear, each breathes life into our lungs and light into our souls. We can be as enthralled by a fruitful, personal exchange as we are by the sunrise and sunset of each day. Of course, we must lament the tragedies of this life, the inequity, the degradation, the crushed hopes. But with enlightened purpose, you and I can act in balance, counteract the negative, and bring more good to the world.

In this context, I "teach" so as to "learn," but also so as to help others explore the horizons that I have seen, to facilitate their observations, to assist someone like you in unraveling his or her own truths. In that way, as our common understanding evolves, as our "being" is enriched, our humanity --- our spirit --- can go beyond skin.

That's all. And maybe that's enough.

24 comments:

Dara Richard said...

I agree with you that it is other people that make life most meaningful. I agree as well that if other people are what make life meaningful than we have a responsibility to help others fulfill their potential.

JaneWee said...

Do you love yourself? We must learn to love ourselves before we love others. Do you agree? If we do not know how to love ourselves,how we going to share our love with others? I appreciate that you act as a candle,as a light to guide everyone of us.
Have you ever wonder who shape your life? Is a people around you? I do believe that we build our own life,we choose our own path of life. Our life is just a piece of plain paper, we decide a title and start to pain. Who do we met,what do we experience is the colors added to the paper.Thus,the paper may be colorful or dull. Hence,the happiness or unhappiness,colorful or not colorful is depends on how we decide,what we choose.

yongjun said...

I am really expect your experience, acctually your experience is really more experienced than my parents. So now you have worked in more than 4 countries, it is really meaningful. hopy you enjoy everyday in Singapore and enrich your experience.

kEN said...

Well, it is truth that when we teach, we get to learn things unexpectedly... (Happen to me before) I also agree that in life we should practise to give and take (Not I give and you take ONLY) in terms of our experiences so that we could one day find or be inspired by the type of life that we wanted.

Steve from E01 NUS said...

I am still thinking the meaning of life~~

Syeda said...

I guess everyone has his own view point on the definition of life and it is most likely to be different from anyone else...and no one is wrong in a way...some questions have no wrong answers...and the best example is "life"...

Tsyr Harn said...

I believe that you have experience a lot of thing in your life, and you found out that what given you the meaning of your life is teaching. I believe that there is more then one answer to meaning of life, and we just have to discover through the course of our life.

wee said...

Be strong to face the challenges and never give up!Kambate sensei!=)

Su Mon said...

As you say we as human can make this journey which is the meaning of life in a healthy, happy fashion and meaningfully .

liu lihui said...

It seems that we are all learning about ourselves step by step. dreams cannot be fulfilled so dreams always change. i wanted to be a good friend, but since the different ways we chose i find we have less and less in common. i wanted to be a good daughter, but i left my parents and went far away from them. i wanted to hold what i have now, but i cannot give up the thought to go oversee study to Australia. it is always like that, my heart tells me to stay, but my blood wants me to go, higher and higher. i don't kown whether this is my way to live a meaningful life. i want to see more, experience more. i also want to build deep friendship with people i like, which really needs time. i'm getting confused about all the choices. but perhaps making choices is indeed what we spend our life learning about.

liu lihui said...

by the way, Mr. blackstone, you typed my name wrongly on your link list. it should be Li Hui, but not Liu Hui. =)

Yao Yuan said...

I wonder whether I can write a article as beautiful as you when I am 60 year's old~~~~

Ma Li said...

Dear BB lao shi, i hope i can travel around the world like you did. We learn a lot of things from you, not just the english.. You are one of the special lectures that i met in nus, Thanks for your efforts.

Tim said...

I think your have had a very meaningful life already. You have much much more experience of life than i do. I can imagin how good it is to have met so many people from different backrounds after i read your article. I hope i can work in more countries than you have done one day. By the way, I'm jealous of you for having good writing skill.

Mole said...

I really admire your writing skills and I'm shamed to post my blog artiles compared with you.

Serene said...

Hi Mr. Blackstone...
Yup,I totally agree with you.
We are not an individual functioning in isolation, but a viable part of a larger scenario.
A scenario that everyone around us plays a significant role in making our life a meaningful one.
A scenario that would bear our imprints and where our contributions would be significant.
Thank you for playing a significant role in my university education=)

shiyi said...

hi Mr. Blackstone

life, I always think, is colorful and ends up with a happy ending. cuz there are so many friends supporting and encouraging us from birth to death. on the way of learning, life becomes meaningful.

Deewa said...

Life always end up just as how we see it. It is like looking into a mirror.
If we see a bad person in the mirror,then a bad person we shall be. If we see a good person the mirror, then a good person we shall be.In the end, what matters is whether you are optimistic or pessimist kind of a person.

Anyway I liked the way you find meaning in life.

Pascal Gekko said...

What makes someone's life meaningful can be different from others. There are people who enjoy working in labs/offices all day without meeting new faces for years. From what I've read in your post, this kind of life is not meaningful at all. That's why, I can say that finding the meaning of life is about finding his/her best perspective of life.
You've found your joy of life and what you really like to do. Life will always feels meaningful if you are enjoying it.

verison said...

After a few decades, we may also have the same experience like Mr.BB.

The meaning of life depends on one's choice and his fate. We can opt ours or just wait for it to come to us.

skyfish said...

I really admire your life experiences. I wonder whether I can also have a wonderful life journey to recall when I become old.

Kwon Hyuk Jin said...

I hope that I can live a life that can somehow equally enriching like yours. Thanks for your opinion and encouragement.

x-[N]^[Y]-x said...

Mr. Blackstone,
You have indeed a very enriching life experience! From today onwards, I will be an optimist and learn as much as I can from EG 1471.

=] TiffaNY

Guo Cheng said...

I just reviewed the movie the Matrix yesterday. Agent Smith said "the purpose of life is to end".