Friday, September 6, 2013

Meaning of life 5: creating meaning

As humans we have a tendency to want meaning, create it, look for it, preserve it in thought systems of meaning passed down in our societies and cultures.

But there are times when we step outside of these culturally and socially bounded frames of meaning. These traditional sets of meaning complexes may have lost their capacity to give our lives brilliance, or to sustain and heal us in our pain. Or there are those who just like to wander through alternative mental landscapes.

As noted earlier, the felt need for meaning manifests in each of us individually, and over time, in a wide range from nearly non-existent to immensely significant. And similarly, the capacity or skill or aptitude for creating, seeing, finding meaning also runs in a spectrum from slight to strong.

Those who have an inherent felt need for meaning but who have a low capacity for creation of meaning – or who find themselves in such a state – will often turn to others who not only have a capacity to create meaning but to convey that meaning, to express it, to pass it along. We value those who have the capacity training, skill, or insight to show us meaning, construct meaning in our world in which we live out our lives.

There are many different types of meaning creators, with different levels of skill and different attraction or appeal. Societies develop public meaning creators who can articulate the meanings which many in that society have developed in concert with one another, that have become a public shared meanings. Those who can express shared meanings in culturally and socially accessible contexts – writers, musicians, artists, speakers, creators of film and dance – often become the touchstones of meaning for their generation.

In addition to the broad social creators of meaning, there are also numerous providers of meaning all through our communities and families. They serve smaller groups of shared needs, or shared interests. The ability to see and give meaning is an inherent ability for our human mind. We can all do it, sometimes better, sometimes not so much. Our own meanings are always more powerful and more transformative than acquired meanings. But often we will be able to come across those who are able to speak, present, manifest the meanings that we have known but not been able to articulate to ourselves. We can absorb these meanings and appropriate them as our own.

Our minds are always involved in accessing, evaluating, re-evaluating, configuring, and re-configuring all the information, knowledge, learning experiences, pattern identification, and innumerable other tools and resources for managing our lives. Meaning is one of the resources which our mind is continually re-considering, re-vamping, re-organizing in the context of the lived experiences through which we make our way. It’s all part of the wonderful and terrible adventure of living life as a human.

For more adventures introduced by meaning see the next post

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