Is it TV and shopping? Thankfully, no.
Many years ago, I attended a lecture titled “The Meaning of Life in Two Words.” With a promise like that, how can you not go?
I honestly expected it to be a joke. It was not.
In the first sentence of the lecture, Dr. Casey Blood announced “the meaning of life is friendship and creativity.”
For me, it was life-changing, and I’ve pondered this profound wisdom for decades. Over time, I’ve come to realize that friendship and creativity aren’t just the meaning of life. They’re the core of our human joy and struggle.
Our challenge on this planet is to learn how fully to connect with one another and to use our talents to create something wonderful. Our deepest desire is to be cherished on this Earth and to make a contribution that outlasts our stay on it. Yet our darkest fear is that it won’t happen in exactly the way that we want it to.
Friendship and creativity may seem like relatively simple things, but the full conceptual context of their meaning is huge.
True friendship goes beyond social chatter. True friendship in any form is anchored in love, acceptance and unconditional support. And creativity isn’t limited to artists and YouTubers; it’s the core of any meaningful contribution.
Whether you’re a painter, publicist or parent, your life’s work is your legacy and every single task provides you with an opportunity to create. Whether you do it with your hands, your mind or your heart, creativity ultimately expands when you have help.
That’s where the conflict comes in.
One of our biggest (perceived) challenges in accomplishing our life’s work are all the other crazy humans out there trying to do the same thing. They plague us with their unrelenting demands, they don’t love us the way we’d like and they insist on bringing their own quirks and ideas into every situation.
If only they would see things our way, then we could really make this world a good place.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who has found themselves thinking, “This project would go quicker if so and so weren’t involved.” Such is the nature of the human ego. Our heart wants to be part of something bigger than ourselves, but our ego keeps telling us that all those other people are standing in our way.
That’s where the cheap, no-work, pop culture solutions – TV and shopping – come into play. Entertainment and acquisition. We can connect, we can create and we don’t have to put up with real people.
Want to experience the satisfaction of pulling together something fabulous? Forget toiling over a community garden or cranking out a multi-department project. A few clicks and you can surround yourself with fabulous furniture or a new wardrobe.
Craving some witty repartee? Ditch your family with their boring demands. Jump on Netflix and you can step into the lives of the most interesting people you’ve (never) met.
The beauty and the curse of TV is that it satisfies our desire for intimacy with no emotional work or responsibility on our part. And consumerism feeds off our need for creative outlet.
I’m no Earth Mother. I’ve got a closet full of clothes I rarely wear and I can recite the words to every “Brady Bunch” episode since Mike and Carol got married. I also know that the meaning we crave is rarely found in solutions.
Discovering your place and purpose is rarely easy. It takes intention and discipline to turn away from the quick fixes being marketed to the masses. Making an emotional investment in the people around you takes a similar level of intention and patience.
And yet, despite their appeal, TV and shopping aren’t cheap substitutes for the real thing. They’re expensive ones, and you deserve the real deal.
Friendship and creativity. It’s really that simple. And it’s really that hard.
– Lisa Earle McLeod is a leadership consultant and the author of several books. For more information on her company, visit McLeodandMore.com.