Nurturing creativity with art, animals, and science fiction

Tag: meaning found in work

this painting is "Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog," 1818, by Caspar David Freidrich

Seeking purpose in life

The Artdog Quote(s) of the Week

In Friday’s post I made the point that people won’t fare very well if they have no purpose in life. But where and how can they find such purpose? For your consideration, I offer a very short discussion, in the form of somewhat-dueling quotes.

This image shows a fair-weather sky with a quote from the Dalai Lama: "The purpose of our lives is to be happy."

Pardon, Your Holiness, but that seems a bit short on practical details. Could you please elaborate? How do we get to happiness as the purpose in our lives from where we are today?

Here's a second quote from the Dalai Lama, printed above a photo of a person's hand holding a small animal, which I believe to be baby mouse, lemur, or shrew. The quote reads: Our prime purpose in this life is to help other, and if you can't help them, at least don't hurt them.

That’s a bit clearer, thanks. But not everyone agrees with His Holiness’s original point that “The purpose of our lives is to be happy.” Here’s a counterargument from Leo Rosten:

The Leo Rosten quote reads: "I cannot believe that the purpose of life is to be happy. I think the purpose of life is to be useful, to be responsible, to be compassionate. It is, above all to matter, to count, to stand for something, to have made some difference that you lived at all." The background is a detail from a painting by Caspar David Friedrich, "Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog."

Rosten, a noted writer, humorist, and observer of the world, had an outlook very much in tune with many of the creative people I’ve known. For him and for many others of us, our purpose in life consists of more than just being happy. It’s even more than just making others happy. We want “to have made some difference” that we lived at all. How future generations will realize that purpose in life remains to be seen.

IMAGE CREDITS:

Many thanks to PictureQuotes for the first Dalai Lama quote, and for turning me on to the second one, although their coverup of the credit line irked me (the image originated from an entity called One Voice, whose online presence apparently has ended. It was reposted by “Raya” on Forsti’s Soup and has since spread from there). 

Finally, I want to thank Pass it On and Values.com for the Leo Rosten quote image. Please note that the background image for the Pass it On/Rosten quote conveys a message of its own, if you recognize it.

The painting from which the background of the Rosten Quote on the purpose of life was drawn is "Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog," (1818), by Caspar David Friedrich, a famous European Romantic masterwork.

Art history buffs among my readers will have recognized it as one of the masterpieces of 19th Century European Romanticism. The painting is Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog (1818) by Caspar David Friedrich – The photographic reproduction was done by Cybershot800i. (Diff), Public Domain, and is available courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The importance of our work

The Artdog Quote of the week: 

Where do we find meaning in our life? Often it is through our work (whether job or avocation), and the services we provide to others.

For those who are unable to work, whether through disability or unavailability of work to do, finding meaning in their lives can be a struggle.

It can be a struggle for anyone with independent means, who does not have to work. They soon discover that a life of endless leisure and self-pleasure is shallow and unsatisfying.

I’m sure there are many people who struggle to make ends meet, who’d like to give that “endless leisure” thing a try! But once they’d had a chance to rest up, they’d probably admit sooner or later that they’d become bored.

I think that’s why so many retired people immerse themselves in volunteer work, if they are physically able. Humans need each other, and they need to feel as if their presence on this earth means something. For a great many of us, at least some portion of that meaning is found through the work that we do.

IMAGE: Many thanks to the Ignatian Solidarity Network, for this image and quote.

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