Remember being a kid? I remember playing wars in the yard with my Han Solo blaster back when having toy guns meant you were a kid and not a future terrorist. I remember being excited about Christmas and birthdays and holidays before Instagram gave me a reason to feel like mine were shittier than everyone else’s.

But what I don’t remember as a kid was ever taking time alone to contemplate the meaning of life. Duh, Jim – why weren’t you a brooding philosopher like all the other kids? I don’t recall pondering what really mattered and what would be a valuable way of trading my remaining moments, days and years before I die.

That’s because kids are usually too busy actually engaged with life to do such things!

It seems that only later in life we somehow are able to mentally detach ourselves from everything else and consider meaning. But what if while we’re busy being observing adults we miss out on engaging?

And what if engaging in life, with people is the point of all this?

There certainly is something about the wonder of child-like engagement with the world.

So why contemplate at all?

Why not just do what you’ve always done without stopping to think too much about it?

Well I’m so glad you asked. Because, one day you might look back and wonder why you gave all of your most valuable commodity, time, to something that you now see didn’t really matter. Maybe it’s a relationship, or a job, or something you’ve always just been part of but never measured it against your core values.

And realising in hindsight is always such a bitch compared with realising with foresight. Change is difficult either way though, right?

So, contemplation coupled with practical engagement seem to be a key to how to navigate life.

The two extremes here are:

Those who contemplate but never engage. By the time they figure it all out (never) it’s too late to actually do anything and experience and relationships are missed out on.

Then there are those who just do what they’ve always done, never questioning. “It’s just what my grandparents did, it’s what my parents did, and it’s what I’ll do too, damn it!” But there’s a shallowness to the routine – a kind of surface level way of living.

They say ignorance is bliss, and that may be true—but not for everyone else watching!

Both are frustrating approaches. Right? Know anyone like either of those extremes? What about you? Which part could you find deeper meaning in? Getting out and experiencing people? Living without having to figure everything out first? Or, stopping a moment to evaluate what really matters. What are your values? Why do you have them? Who gave them to you? How are they demonstrated and fulfilled by what you do with your time?

As someone who lives in my head a lot, it’s easy for me to tip into isolation and miss the fulfilment of relationship. But for those of you who never stop to consider things, maybe the relationships you do have could be better, deeper, richer, more meaningful.

I truly think that a meaningful life holds some degree of contemplation and relationship. Wonder and actually going and doing, and sharing with others, and even routine, mixed with thoughtfulness to provide direction along this complicated thing called life seems to be a pretty healthy approach.

Disengage. Consider. Re-engage. Love. Repeat.

Hey, before you go, check out my other blog posts and book here.

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