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An Ode to Meaning

Here's a simple philosophical sonnet entitled "An Ode to Meaning":

Oh, Muses of Inspiration, don't fail me now
Shed light and clarity on the nature of our existence
On both our noble aspirations and our foolish foibles
And provide synthesis and a lucidity that makes sense.

Sing out propitiously the praises of the positive outlook
Of joy and pleasure, of meaning, and depth, and fulfillment.
Life is affected by plenty of pain and suffering, of emptiness and malaise
But even these challenges are opportunities for growth and valuable ferment.

Regarding the ordinary as abounding with the seeds of the sublime
The poet works to express important thoughts with some clarity
Or, by contrast, with a unique mode of abstact or esoteric impressionism
In a fabrication with an oft artificial style, which begs for some charity.

Hidden beneath the often hectic maelstrom of daily circumstance
We seek to achieve personal meaning and a sense of purpose and fulfillment
To find a satisfying connectedness, and a context of affirmation
As well as an appreciation of our extraordinarily beautiful environment.

We are here, now, for an uncertain while longer
Aware of the days running past like wild horses over the hill
At times alert, and at times oblivious to the wonders of Nature
And to the potential richness of existence, as we try to get our fill.

We fancy ourselves sophisticated creatures on Planet Earth
Above and beyond every other animal in all of the eons of history
Special, unique, with ascendant consciousness and having dominion,
Masters of the Universe, transcendent of all except the Ultimate Mystery.

Yet it is probable that the survival of the human race will be short-lived
Relative to many species that fossils indicate lasted millions of years,
Likely that in our hubris-filled and destructive activities we will find
A calamitous fate of our own choosing, and one worthy of prescient tears.

Our perspective can be enlightened by regarding infinity and eternity
And considering the vast colonnades of time reflected in the records of geology
Striving to understand the incomprehensible amount of change transpired
On our precious Water Planet, as revealed by evolutionary biology.

Within this context, and in light of our ephemeral natures
And the certain ending of each of our own individual lives
We seek some solace, some sense of belonging and security
Hoping to find purpose, and something which into posterity survives.

We love to study ourselves, striving eagerly to comprehend
And despite the fact that so many things are relative and elusive
We leap into the dark with our explorations, explanations, and convictions
Perceiving, interpreting and making theories to which Truth may be conducive.

The motivating drives of humankind are both simple and complex
With the hierarchy of needs rising from basic survival and procreation
Through outer-directed needs to the lofty summits of satisfying self-actualization
Where the impulse to do good has more impact than does titillating seduction.

It is our passion to create righteous and self-justifying worldviews,
Some compensation for the "slings and arrows" misfortune doth bring.
An identity, a context, a belief, a security of self, a connection
Wherein our hopes of fulfillment can at least occasionally sing.

Our basic human needs are more likely to be realized and met
When we know ourselves, and understand and express our feelings to others
Seeking affirmation, acknowledgment, nurturance, and communion
Together with integrity, autonomy, celebration, and even respect for our mothers.

Meaning in life can seem hollow, absent, elusive or departed
When unfulfilled feelings overwhelm our balance of perspective
When fear, anger, frustration, anxiety, or confusion arise
Or we suffer injury, loneliness or sorrow which is not elective.

The positive gamut of fulfilled feelings ranges wide
From curiosity, enthusiasm, elation, exaltation, generosity and love
To fascination, freedom, happiness, confidence and calm
And projections of thanksgiving to the heavens above.

We seek significance through work roles, possessions and success
Through family bonds, friendships, romantic relationships, and spirituality
Trying to broaden our horizons, to be happy, and to have pleasure and fun
Or to achieve something important and lasting through art and creativity.

The meaningfulness we glean on our journey through life
Can be rich, wonderful and sublime, even seemingly divine
When good fortune smiles upon us with heartening manifestation
And our health and attitude and involvements are going just fine.

Change is, of course, continuous, and thus we find truth in the fact
That purposes and circumstances and motivations evolve
So we strive to remain flexible, to adjust and to adapt,
Our natures being fluid, as is our philosophy and our resolve.

It may be absurd to be confident in the context of uncertainty and calamity
But we do choose our own realities to at least some small extent
So we must choose a perspective we can love and relish and enjoy
And whatever our lot, take heart, breathe deep, and appreciate the moment.

Buddhist philosophy recognizes clearly that all things pass,
Wisely counseling detachment from outcome, and moderation in all things
So we should strive to manage gracefully and practice philosophical equanimity
Letting go of fears and delusion, and giving thanks for the blessings that life brings.

The best we can do is to make the best of whatever comes our way
Remaining alert to opportunities, being optimistic, and knowing our own souls
Acting consistent with true values, and with openness, compassion and care
Appreciating our existences, whether or not we reach our goals.

--- Dr. Tiffany Twain