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Here are episodes we've collected!
Six kinds of meaningful episodes in life
The Presence is Meaningful: I am what causes or destines me to be.
Doug Binkley: It was when I was young, maybe seventeen or eighteen, visiting relatives who lived on a lake. It was winter. I was bored and went for a walk outside. Feeling indestructible, I went out on the frozen lake and marched all around thinking great thoughts - I thought. I then noticed on my way back to the house open water in front of me. I collected myself and backed off, going by a different route to the shore. I accounted myself fortunate to not have had a serious accident. Meaningful: The fact that in my mind I had narrowly "escaped death" led me to think I might be somehow special. Meaning arose: From the dynamic of a potential disaster averted, and both the thought that this could be destiny and/or an indication I could extricate myself from danger through reason and maybe more caution. Consequences: It possibly led to making decisions based on a feeling of being destined for great things - only, of course, to have the expectations dashed.
Andrius Kulikauskas: I lived with a family in the Lithuanian countryside. Unexpectedly, I was attracted to their seventeen-year-old daughter. I asked God, why do I have these feelings, what do you want from me? And God told me, you are going to marry her. Meaningful: I never would have allowed myself to think about her, but I could because God is greater than I. Meaning arose: Because I confronted God. Consequences: I told her my intentions, and her parents and my parents, and I still believe it will come true, almost three years later, as God assures me every day.
The Possible is Meaningful: I am my decisions.
Bob: When an article on my journal on the meaning of life was published in the Chicago Tribune. Meaningful: This article reached many people about this topic. Meaning arose: I got tremendous recognition for the idea and a personal sense of recognition. Consequences: 3,400 people subscribed to my journal and heard about it in other media.
Laura Shaeffer: Inviting the elderly Chinese community into our third floor space for the winter, to do their daily dance of vitality. Meaningful: It brought a demographic, a group of people inside our community home who we would otherwise never have known in such an intimate setting. It built trust and relationships where language was not possible. Meaning arose: The meaning arose many times. Once when I watched them file in on a cold and snowy morning - smiling and hugging me, another time when they wanted to show gratitude to us for inviting them - they threw a big potluck dinner and every single one performed for the group - when it was over - they made me perform for them. Consequences: We had become vulnerable to each other, we ate each other's food and we listened to each other with respect. We now HUG on the streets when we see each other.
Sherry Williams: Crossing the street (1000 block of West 59th St, Chicago, IL from South side of the street to North side). Meaningful: I met families that were not a part of my family nucleus. I learned how to socialize, cook recipes not provided by my mom, saw how large families interact with limited resources. Meaning arose: I noticed the family across the street had a front porch that they used for recreation, homework, hair braiding. Consequences: I became aware of how bonds in communities are formed and strengthened. How cultural practices are passed, how faith is practiced.
Francesca: My niece was born to my 20 year old brother and his 19 year old girlfriend. Meaningful: A new life was brought into mine. One which would grow in my presence, closer to me than any child had ever been since I had been a child myself. Meaning arose: With every day she grew and changed and learned her surroundings. Consequences: I could no longer leave my family for any extended period of time. I can no longer keep from smiling at children.
Rene: Sports in Belize opened up opportunities.
The Desirable is Meaningful: I am the example I follow.
Sherry Williams: Learning to pray. Meaningful: Elder women in the church provided nurturing guidance in how the relationship in Christ is deepened by honest, heartfelt, love for God. Meaning arose: I was an unwed pregnant teen who had been in church all my life, but did not know how to pray my own prayers. Consequences: I have a profound consciousness and love of God. I pray without restraint.
Andrius Kulikauskas: I wanted to have a channel to listen to God because I was organizing practical activity and responsible for others. I thought there must be a way and I was inspired by Kangning Liou's example. I thought what would be most straightforward and remembered "Our Father" and how I liked it but only parts would resonate. I realized it might overload me so I tried it out and it worked and I experienced that God can speak to me. Meaningful: I have achieved a direct relationship with God that I enjoyed all my life. Meaning arose: I wanted it and it was in the most available place and I just had to devote myself and it was mine. Consequences: I learned to know when God is with me or not, became very tuned an at peace, humble.
Bob: When my son was born, I had a flash of intuition when looking at him one day that what I most wanted out of life was that it have meaningfulness. Meaningful: The realization that meaning is the greatest value for all people. I had a bit of depression beforehand. Meaning arose: As an intuition. Consequences: I eventually published a quarterly journal on the meaning of life nad made it the focus of my life and teaching.
The Absence is Meaningful. I am my sensitivity.
Francesca: I stood in a circle with friends and acquaintances and strangers holding hands around our freshly prepared meal on an extinct volcano in the tropics at night in silence. Meaningful: The sounds of the animals, insects and trees in the wind. Meaning arose: From a warm group of happy people. Consequences: I no longer believe in silence. [Note by Andrius: I think this is about the Absence of silence]
Laura Shaeffer: When my old boyfriend's (my 1st love's) father who was like my surrogate grandfather or father I never had, allowed me to sit with him and draw him when he was dying of cancer. He allowed me to hold his hand and take care of him, he allowed me to be there at his most vulnerable and fragile. Meaningful: I felt intense unspoken care, we both were able to be with each other in silence and confront ourselves with loss - together. Meaning arose: Through quiet time together, his family, (no longer "mine" - I had separated from my boyfriend) invited me to be with him before he died. He died the day after I left. Consequences: I learned how to let go of someone I love with grace and dignity.
Rene: Death of family members. Meaningful: The feeling of losing someone you love or care for. Meaning arose: Life is precious. Consequences: Be good to everybody, enjoy life.
Andrius Kulikauskas: I wanted to do what might be most useful. I wanted to know everything and apply that knowledge usefully. However, I thought that could lead me astray. I offered to God that if he gave me the freedom to think freely, I would always believe in him. It seemed right. I considered if I needed a sign, but told him my sign is that he didn't give me a sign. Meaningful: I found a way to include God even though I had no contact from him but I could lean on him. Meaning arose: I let go of my point of view, saw that it could be harmful and found another point of view to oversee it. Consequences: I had a reference point for my entire life that I could leverage that helped me grow.
Anonymous: I was a young person of thirteen or so, very interested in chess. An older man in the neighborhood invited me into his house to play chess. After a couple of games he sort of intimidated me to get into bed with him. It was not - luckily - a really horrible thing, just a situation where unwanted cuddling was involved. Also luckily nothing more came of it. Meaningful: It made me suspicious of people and their motives all of my life. It made me extremely grateful to be alive. Meaning arose: From the situation of being and feeling nearly helpless and humiliated. Consequences: (See: Meaningful)
Anonymous: Being homeless. Meaningful: Never thought I would be without shelter. I had a husband and family members with resources. This was the first time I depended on God. Meaning arose: I was committed to survival. Living in a house with crazy people is not healthy. Consequences: I met a woman (a stranger) who gave me keys to her office to live with my daughter. Help can come from unexpected places.
Anonymous: I moved to a bad neighborhood. I got on the wrong bus, got off and needed help to find my way. I saw a man with a dog, and realized that he was the one I should approach. He was helpful.
The Impossible is Meaningful: I am my insistence.
Bob: When I beat a college that wanted to fire me (philosophy). Meaningful: That I succeeded over much bigger powers. Meaning arose: From an idea I got on how to increase enrollments by publicity. Consequences: I saved my job teaching.
Anonymous: I had just gotten done essentially getting a theatre ready to open, after a huge expense - compared to my day job salary - and time and effort. I really felt a deep feeling of pride and accomplishment. Meaningful: It proved that I could at least complete something of substance that physically could not be denied. Meaning arose: From the effort that went into it. Consequences: 4 to 5 more years of struggle and being beaten down by the indifference and sometimes downright malevolence of society and other people.
Anonymous: Trying to get pregnant in 2009 and having my daughter in 2011. Meaningful: It was that I couldn't rush what was not planned for me at that time. Meaning arose: The meaning arose when I realized it wasn't time for me to get pregnant at that time. Consequences: The consequences were that when I miscarried the first 3 times.
The Undesireable is Meaningful: I am my self-correction.
Andrius Kulikauskas: I was addicted to masturbation and I thought it was not good but I didn't know how to overcome it. I challenged it in many ways and realized my mind was not my friend. I realized that it was the challenge that was most important, not the success. Meaningful: I clarified my desire. Meaning arose: I commited to challenging. Consequences: I became at peace and chaste.
Laura Schaeffer: When my child forgave me after I lost my temper and smacked him. Meaningful: Although I felt horrible that I could have reacted so badly and hurt my own most beloved child, thinking that I was the worst mother ever, I saw that no matter what I did - his heart could forgive and I was very deeply moved by his love. Meaning arose: I apologized to him and he cut me off and said, "I forgive you mommy". Consequences: Our relationship deepened, I was able to see my weaknesses and tell him about them and he was able to forgive me - therefore - perhaps he might forgive himself someday.
Francesca: I pulled my hair back and looked in the mirror and for a second saw myself as another person. Meaningful: I have always seen myself as myself and not someone I am looking at. Meaning arose: When I didn't acknowledge my appearance instantly as "me". Consequences: I was made more physically aware of the fact that I am the same as everybody else.