Measuring the Journey

“In daylight, in sunsets,

In midnight, in cups of coffee,

in inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife,

How do you measure, a year in the life?”

The words above are lyrics from a song called “Seasons of Love,” from the wildly popular musical, Rent. Although I have never seen Rent and only heard of it from friends, I find these 27 words intensely thought-provoking.

How do you measure a year in the life?

Over the past few weeks I have been compiling an encouraging book of quotes for a good friend. This friend, only 20 years old, has experienced a number of excruciatingly painful circumstances and diagnoses in her life. To name a few: an abusive parent, a tumor in her breast, a heart defect, bipolar disorder. Encouraging my friend is difficult, as ours is now a long-distant relationship, but I will be (emotionally) by her side in these rough times, just as she has been there for me.

So I recently found myself filling one of the pages of her book with these provoking lyrics from Rent. I chose the lyrics because my friend adores Rent, and the lyrics are powerful in a potentially positive way. I hoped that these words, printed in the little moleskine journal, would move my friend, but I did not think that they would have much of an effect on me. Well, it turns out that through exploring these words, my own thoughts have indeed been provoked and my own levels of hope have been challenged.

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How do you measure a year in the life?

If you are familiar with my blog, you will understand why this question brings to mind other questions I often ask, such as:

“What is the meaning of life?”

Both questions are objective, and potentially unanswerable, but that doesn’t stop me from trying to come as close to an answer or meaning as I can (overtime).

Do you measure your life in  hours you spend behind your work desk?

Do you measure your life in the number of mornings you wake up?

Do you measure your life in the number of friends you have?

Do you measure your life in the scores and grades you achieve?

Fo you measure your life in the miles you’ve traveled?

Do you measure your life in the price of the clothes you wear?

Do you measure your life in the good deeds that you do?

Do you measure your life in the words that you’ve written?

Do you measure life in the breaths that you take?

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I imagine that like me, most people, subconsciously or not, measure their lives on certain concrete scales. And when we do this, aren’t we making “life” synonymous with “purpose” and “value?

How do you measure your life?

How do you measure your purpose?

How do you measure your value?

How do you measure your life?

These questions intrigue and scare me all at once. They scare me quite a bit.

I recently stumbled upon, quite gratefully, a TED talk (you know how much I love those) by pastor Rick Warren called “A life of Purpose.” Warren’s speech pushed me into deep thought on the same sorts of topics/questions that the Rent lyrics did.

A subtopic of Warren’s speech is materialism. This struck a chord with me which, as I write this, hits deeper and deeper into my conscience. “Every time I give, it breaks the grip of materialism on my life. Materialism is all about getting…It’s all about more, having more… And we think that the good life is… looking good, feeling good, and having the goods. But that’s not the good life. I meet people all the time who have those, and they’re not necessarily happy.”

I’m not using this post to advertise my blog and my previous posts, but I will say that if you’ve read some of my previous posts, you know that I idolize my comfort, I idolize feeling good, and I idolize perfection. It’s not necessarily bad that I want these things, but it is bad that I want them to be my personal saviors, my value-raisers, my “good life” trophies. It is bad that I want to measure my life in these things.

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How do you measure a year in your life?

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Thinking about this has me feeling disappointed about how I’ve seemed to measure my life/purpose/value in the past. But do I really know how to do it any better now?

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Sadly, this is where I leave you to consider these questions on your own while I continue to do the same. Answers won’t be found in one day. Answers most likely won’t be found in one lifetime… or a million.

But there is purpose out there, even if we don’t know precisely what it is.

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One Response to Measuring the Journey

  1. Geo Sans says:

    love
    without
    richter scales

    Liked by 1 person

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