See that fellow sitting in the question mark? That’s me now, been me 90% of my waking time and often I wonder if my sleeping time is not also consumed with questions. You are probably the same, are you not? It’s who we are – inquisitive and always looking for the answer. A favorite TV commercial from years ago showed a young boy with his father sharing quality time together. The boy’s response to everything the father did was, “Why?”
Why, why, why? Today’s internet has made answering our questions just a few key strokes away. Google it, ask the computer assistant, go to the online encyclopedia. Wikipedia is our guide to every query imaginable. We have online language translators, quote sources, and 54 versions of the Bible – just a click away.
“Alexa, why am I here?”
That charming voice emanating from your device will list numerous reasons for your physical existence, biological determinants and a bibliography of further research.
“But, Alexa, who put me here? What is my purpose here?”
Aha! Let’s play stump Alexa, shall we? I have asked those two questions of a multitude of common sense people, scholars, teachers, preachers, parents, friends, lovers, and strangers. And I have received a million differing answers. Why? Because nobody knows.
Theories abound, theologies are a dime a dozen, philosophies chase down bizarre dead ends, experts whimper with possibilities, but nobody knows for sure. Men of religion profess truth, gurus and yogis sit in lotus position meditating, rabbis quote ancient spiritual wisdom, and Buddha claims he attained enlightenment. But nobody knows for certain who put Larry Paul Brown on earth and what is his purpose here?
I can only assume my chosen path will be enlightening, that my faith is founded on truth, that my death will find me in a better place than my birth. I can only assume that my spiritual journey will not result in a train wreck or that my inner GPS has not miscalculated the directions.
We live by faith and experience, don’t we? Perhaps another important question to entertain is, “Whom do I trust?”
Will I trust all the aforementioned entities or will I look inward to what I have learned to be my honest assessment of me? Will I follow the indwelling Spirit and my inherent conscience in my decisions and behavior or will I give that responsibility to the man in the pulpit, the professional counselor, my best friend, my spouse or the jolly fat man sitting under the bodhi tree?
Famously, Polonius advises his 18 year-old son, Laertes, in Shakespeare’s HAMLET, ” This above all: to thine own self be true. And it must follow, as the night the day. Thou canst not then be false to any man.”