I’m a seeker, and I bet you are too. I seek answers to questions about the meaning of life and how I can live my best life. I read books and articles and listen to podcasts. I constantly consume information on what the "right" ingredients are for my healthiest, happiest life and how I can make the biggest impact in the world.
Years ago when I was a flight attendant for Continental Airlines, I was working a flight from Newark to D.C. The weather was stormy and had caused our flight to be delayed by several hours. At first, people waited in the boarding area, then, people waited on the plane at the gate, then, we closed the doors and pushed back and waited more. I was the lead flight attendant that day, the one making the announcements, and in charge of first class. There was one man in particular who got angrier with every minute we were delayed. He complained to us as if we were at fault, probably even shouting at us over the situation. When we finally took off, the captain made the announcement that there would be no service, and the flight attendants needed to stay seated for their safety. My jumpseat faced the first class cabin, and I could clearly see this man who had been angry for hours as we took off. From take off to landing, it was the most turbulent flight I had ever been on. What should have been a quick, 45 minute flight, took hours as we tried to avoid bigger pockets of air and then had to circle around before landing. You can guarantee that I had my four point seat belt on as tightly as possible. I took my book, “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl, out of my bag and I tried to read it on that bumpy flight. I'm not sure how much I read in those hours but I will always remember how pale our customer’s face was after takeoff, and how he loosened his tie, gripping his seat and hanging on for dear life. I thought to myself, “Now what matters? Does it matter that we were late? Or does it matter that we get there alive?”
I kissed the floor of my apartment when I finally arrived back home many hours later that night. I was thankful to have made it back safely. I thought of Viktor Frankl’s words, and I pondered the meaning of my life, and I hoped that I could live a life worthy of each breath we get to take on this beautiful planet.
Viktor Frankl was a Holocaust survivor and the creator of Logotherapy. He observed that people who had even one thing to live for held onto that meaning as a reason to live through the horrific experiences they were put through. Right now I’m thinking of the people in Syria and Turkiye who have survived for so many days under the rubble of the earthquake, most recently, a teenager was discovered alive 10 days after the earthquakes hit. What must they have been holding onto? And what is the meaning of life for them now?
When I slow down to remember these things, it doesn’t matter so much to me that I get to contribute to bettering the world in the big ways I dream of. I just want to contribute. I want to wake up each day so full of gratitude and love that it’s as if a light is shining from inside of me and I get to spread that light to everyone I meet. I want to be the change I wish to see. I want to live from a place of abundance. I want to share with others that the meaning of life doesn't have to be complicated, it doesn't have to be a never-ending search or a final destination. This breath, these friends, this family, this community, is all I need. I can do good things, no matter what my job title is or what big things I accomplish to make the world a better place. Of course I’m still going to seek to make the biggest impact I possibly can on humanity and our precious planet but if I wake up everyday knowing that no matter what I accomplish, I belong, and I love this life, I’m bound to live a life full of purpose and contribution.
Originally published on LinkedIn