Layers of Reality

Welcome back to SunnyRoomStudio.

Today we return to the focus of our 2015 journal: Exploring Meaning.

“Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road, healthy, free, the world before me, the long brown path before me leading wherever I choose.” ~ Whitman

As Whitman notes in a more literal context, via our journals, we are taking to the open road … the path before us leading wherever we choose.

journal entry 2

Orwhat’s it all about, Alfie? (do you know the song?)

“I’m afraid our world has turned this question of
meaning and purpose into a bit of a monster.”


I don’t even see a path in this picture, yet, through thoughts and words I can create one. This is what the blank page feels like when I sit down to write. Sometimes, though, the sky is dark and foreboding … making it even more difficult to find my way.

Does this give my life meaning and purpose? Pulling words out of thin air, hoping I can discover their deeper meaning while effectively capturing them on the page?

To a degree, yes.

But there have been many periods in my life when I didn’t have time to even get to the blank page — or times when the inspiration, the motivation, simply wasn’t there. What was my purpose then … I might wonder.

Of course there is no way to be sure about any of this. It’s all conjecture.

And like anything else, a superficial purpose isn’t the same as a deeper, more profound purpose.


Hmm, I see a parking place in this picture; it looks like a good place to pause … something I do when I get back home, have time to take in the countryside …

So is gazing out at this tranquil setting also my purpose? Does it give my life meaning? 


Could I put it on my resume? Well, I could, but …

I love this from Picasso: The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.

  • Yes, I agree. And maybe the purpose of life, in general, is to wash the dust off our souls.

Or how about this from Elisabeth Kubler-Ross: Learn to get in touch with the silence within yourself, and know that everything in life has purpose. There are no mistakes, no coincidences, all events are blessings given to us to learn from.

I first read her work back in graduate school. Sociologists actually study death and dying, and she has written extensively on the subject. Now deceased, her books are classics. When my son died, I remember reading one of her books; it helped.

What was my purpose then — struggling to find my way in the swamp of grief? 

Of course the overall meaning of that gut-wrenching experience was slow to reveal itself … and 7.5 years later, those days have turned into a memoir of some 300 pages.

If the book is really finished (one more edit could only help, right?) … what is my purpose now?

  • Well, my poetry needs time and attention … will working on that give my life meaning?

Senseless questions, really. As Kubler-Ross tells us: everything in life has purpose. And I think she’s right. Even the next breath, the next cup of coffee, the next unexpected turn of events …

But I’m afraid our world has turned this question of meaning and purpose into a bit of a monster. So many are under the impression that meaning and purpose must look or feel a certain way … that they must have society’s (often superficial) stamp of approval … and only by looking and looking, long and hard, will we discover our “special” or “true” purpose. But I don’t buy it. This question … this unfortunate search … can’t we find a better way to understand it? < end: journal entry 2 >

Focus question for your journal:
Do you worry about life meaning, the specifics of “purpose” … the
jungle of contradictions that arise when this subject (invariably) comes up?

Thanks so much for joining us; see you again Friday, January 16th, as our journal continues. And remember: if you haven’t looked within, you haven’t looked.

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