I love this scene from the 1991 film, City Slickers. Billy Crystal plays Mitch, a man whose marriage is stale and his job is unfulfilling – he’s in the middle of a midlife crisis – so he goes on a cattle drive with his also dissatisfied friends and his wife tells him to “Go find your smile”. As he is contemplating life, he gets advice from a crusty old cowboy named Curly, played by Jack Palance.
Curly: You know what the secret of life is?
Mitch: No, what?
Curly: (holds up his leather gloved hand and points his index finger) This.
Mitch: Your finger?
Curly: One thing, just one thing.
Mitch: That’s great, but what’s the one thing?
Curly: That’s what you’ve got to figure out.
What gives our lives meaning is a going to be different for each individual. Each one of us has a different dream, a unique calling, an individual passion and set of gifts. We have our own set of life experiences and circumstances that have shaped who we are and who we might become. We must figure out for ourselves what gives our life deeper meaning.
In his book, “Man’s Search for Meaning”, Viktor Frankl talks about the importance of finding the ‘why’ that gives our lives deeper meaning. His book recounts his experience during the WWII as a prisoner in a concentration camp. He states that as the men in the camp defined a deeper meaning for their lives, their suffering became purposeful. Those who had lost their faith in the future were doomed to mental and physical decay. He describes a difference in prisoners who felt that their life had some type of meaning, and a difference in their attitude and ultimately, their survival. As they looked at what life expected from them, rather than what they expected from life, their life took on a deeper meaning. For one man there was a child whom he deeply loved, and he knew would be waiting for him in another country. Another man was a scientist who had written works that could not be finished by anyone except him. Frankl explains
“We had to learn ourselves and, furthermore, we had to teach the despairing men, that it did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us. We need to stop asking about the meaning of life, and instead to think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life—hourly and daily. Our answer must consist not in talk and meditation, but in right action and in right conduct. Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answers to its problems and to fulfill the task which it constantly sets for each individual.
These tasks, and therefore the meaning of life, differ from man to man, and from moment to moment. . . No man and no destiny can be compared with any other may or any other destiny. (It) is unique and different for each individual.
A man who becomes conscious of the responsibility he bears toward a human being who affectionately waits for him, or to an unfinished work, will never be able to throw away his life. He knows the “why” for his existence, and will be able to bear almost any “how”. “
Figuring out the ‘why’ is another piece of the puzzle in finding your dream. But you must answer this for yourself. No one can tell you life’s meaning, or label you with a purpose or calling, or tell you what your dream is or should be. YOU are the one who must figure out THIS ONE THING, that which differs ‘from man to man, moment to moment’.
What is your ONE THING?
You can find 10 questions that might help by clicking here. If you haven’t read the rest of this series “Dare to Dream – Finding Your Dream (Again) a list of previous posts right here . And please follow this blog and our Facebook page so that you can get the rest of this #write31days series!