John is an actor, academic, entrepreneur, financial pundit, and writer interested in the search for truth and meaning in the world.
Before I formed you in the womb I knew you. Before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you…. Jeremiah 1:5 (NIV)
Men of all ages have endeavored to find the meaning or purpose of life. This yearning typically comes as a man matures into manhood, a time when the parents die, children come, and eyes fail. Men typically start their quest for insight at the local bookstore. Bookstores, full of treatises on the subject, have become a communal refuge from what Henry David Thoreau described as lives of quiet desperation. Yet, the books therein, with the notable exception of the Bible, to me somehow all seemed empty and devoid of true enlightenment. I, like many other men, sought the answer by reading literary works ranging from the seven ages of man in Shakespeare’s As You Like It to today’s Freudian-derived pop psychology, without any success. Day after day, my search grew increasingly desperate. I felt compelled to leave behind guidance for my children. It was not until entering the solitude of prayer and personal introspection that I gained insight. My epiphany came one evening while I was looking out the kitchen window, watching snow blowing in the wind, and considering the life of a snowflake.
The life of a snowflake is similar to that of a man. A snowflake is born in a cloud’s womb from water vapor and cold air. The snow embryo develops into an aggregate of ice crystals or cells within the womb’s safety. When fully formed, the cloud gives birth to millions of snowflakes that come in many different forms, shapes, and colors. Each flake is born into the world with a unique set of travails such as temperature and humidity challenges. Some, handicapped by their environment, are born into snow squalls and quickly perish while others, being more fortunate, flourish in blizzards. No matter what the weather condition, all snow longs to reach the ground. This longing is programmed into snowflakes at conception. They cannot run or hide from their fate—melt upon impact or endure for a season.
The snowflakes that reach the ground cling together to form communities. Each snowflake has an assignment, whether it is to help traverse a swollen gully or cover a blade of grass. Snowflakes remain on the ground in communal form until they melt, each expiring at its appointed time. It is as a group working together that snowflakes have meaning. If you doubt my assertion, simply imagine skiing or sledding on a single snowflake. This occurrence is the renowned snowflake effect whereby many working together accomplish feats that one acting alone cannot achieve. In colder climates, generations of snow lie together on the ground all winter. Ultimately, like man who dies and returns to dust, snow melts in the summer and replenishes waterways. Even in death, snow becomes rivers of living water that nurture a rebirth in nature.
Snow’s life is simple because it knows its purpose from birth and solely pursues it until death. A man’s life would be well spent imitating that of snow, leaving behind a legacy that helps others bloom from generation to generation.
Alas, I lived as a blind man for most of my life. I wasted many precious years in the pursuit of things that have no lasting value. I concentrated on secondary matters such as education and wealth building, which seemed of paramount importance at the time, but ultimately will not define my legacy. There is only one cardinal pursuit that matters. That pursuit is discovering and fulfilling your destiny. All other endeavors, while necessary, pale by comparison. This failure to understand the correlation between contentment and purpose left me for many years disillusioned and confused about the meaning of life. While I labored to leave a rich inheritance, I almost forgot about the one true treasure a father can give his children. The real treasure is showing them the path to a meaningful life. If I had allowed my children to go from the womb to the tomb without knowing their reason for being, I would have committed an act of child abuse, and no inheritance would be able to repair the damage. Henceforth, they will receive that which is necessary but also that which has meaning.
Accordingly, I bequeath to my descendants this allegory and the following instructions for discovering the meaning of life:
- First, honor God and keep His commandments regardless what others may do or condone.
- Second, seek to find your talents early in life so that you and others may profit from them. Only then will you find true contentment and vanquish thoughts of quiet desperation.
- Third, do not let fear rule your lives or prevent you from reaching your God-given destiny.
- Fourth, reject those people and things that hinder you from doing your best. Fall into this life and leave a lasting imprint that flows into eternity.
- Finally, accept that the course of mankind is to be born of God with a purpose to be discovered and to one-day stand judged before Him for the deeds done in this life.
If you do these things, you will discover the true meaning of life.
© 2021 John Remington Pierce