Werner Erhard said that life inherently has no meaning. That’s by human design. We’re either being right or making others wrong. We’re either dominating or avoiding being dominated. We’re constantly trying to make up for a failure to be, in the past, particularly in childhood. We’re constantly trying to win the game of life. Yet, by life’s very design: We all shall lose. We all have our expiration dates on the Planet Earth.
Yet, that being said, Werner says that the only meaning in life, is the meaning that we bestow upon it. Amen. Amen. When we get that we choose, who we are going to be in any given moment, then making a difference becomes our authentic self-expression. So life is no longer this “already always” predictable future. Life becomes the Art that we create as our own. Just saying. I was reminded of this by my late Mom.
I was in Honolulu to attend and speak at my mom’s funeral services. Mom was 89 years old. She would have been 90 on December 22. She passed away in hospice care, after experiencing failing health and medical complications. Basically, her body was failing and it was time. After all, time is undefeated.
At my age, 57 years old, the only times I get to see old family and friends is at weddings or funerals. Yes, I’m sad that my Mom is gone. Mostly, I miss her. Ironically, she raised me so that I wouldn’t need her. I’m grateful to her for getting her job done.
On the upside, I got to see people I had not seen in 10 or 20 years. I met Mom’s retired teacher friends. Mom had a 37-year career as an elementary school teacher in Waipahu, Hi. I was happy talking with my Mom’s friends, who had amazing regard for Mom. Honestly, I had to ask who they were. When I was 7 years old, I only knew them by their last names. So, there’s that.
My dear friend Clem from Graduate School flew in for the weekend for Mom’s services. He had to go back on Monday because he was flying to Asia for the Christmas Holidays with his wife. Yet, Clem made the time to attend the services, because Mom had become his Mom over the years. She was that meaningful to him.
As I sat with my sister Carol, I saw another dear friend from Grad School. Carlos came up to say “Hi.” We Man Hugged. Carlos said that he had to come. He told Carol, “Your mom was like our mom, here (in Honolulu)…” I had tears in my eyes. Mom was that meaningful to Carlos, as well. Mom truly lived the meaningful life.
I was mindful of what Mom meant to me and to others when I delivered her eulogy. I closed by saying:
…When I feel that fear in my chest, I hear her voice, “Slow down, Jonny.” When that voice in my head says, “Jon, you can’t!” I listen to Mom, “I’m proud of you.” Perhaps, the world might not remember Mom. Yet, I will.
Mom taught me that kindness and compassion define a man. She always saw the greater-than version of me, the one I continually evolve. I’ll remember our conversations. I’ll remember laughing with her. I’ll remember her making bento lunches to take home on the flight to Los Angeles: When I was 45 years old. I’d have to explain to airport security that ‘they’ were rice balls, not bombs. I’ll remember how her warm gentle hands felt in mine. I’ll remember her heart. Mom loved everyone.
No, the world might not remember my Mom. But the world is a whole lot greater for her having been on the Planet Earth. I’ll remember Mom. And it touches my heart that you all, will too.
Goodnight Mom, “and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.” You have been, and shall always be my Hero. I love you, always.”
In thanking the family and friends gathered to say ‘goodbye’ to Mom, I said, “I don’t think that we really define our legacy. That will be defined by those, who we touch in life. I thank you all for defining my mom’s legacy. I thank you with all my heart…”
Yes, Mom had a meaningful life. I think that she would have wanted me to have a meaningful life, too. I believe she wished that for everyone. Because she loved people.
So I’ll do my best to have my meaningful life, not just for myself, but to honor Mom’s legacy. I’ll do what I love to do, whether it’s Aikido, writing, or guiding young Air Force Officers to do their jobs, for as long as I can.
Like Sensei Dan, Mom taught me that kindness and compassion define a Good Man. I’ll continue to pass that on through teaching Aikido or through my writing.
Hopefully, through all this and just being nice to people, I carry on Mom’s enduring legacy. Perhaps, I’ll have as meaningful a life as Mom’s. Amen.
What are you gonna do to make your life meaningful? Really, just asking.
Photo courtesy of the author.