All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts…
I’ve finally cracked it!
Cracked what, I hear you say? The meaning of life.
I’ve finally figured out the question that is so often asked by man – “What is my purpose in this world?”
Now, before I go on, you should know that this is my meaning of life. Yours could be something completely different, or you may have your own epiphany after reading this.
After reading Victor E. Frankl’s classic work “Man’s Search for Meaning” the lightbulb finally went on. Not that I’ve instantly become a fan of Frankl’s “logotherapy,” but his book did help me to formulate my own thoughts on my existence—with page 142 being the small piece of the puzzle that completed the complex picture we call “life.”
Drawing on Frankl’s own explanation, I’ll use the analogy that finally helped me to determine my own meaning in this crazy world. You see, my life is a movie. I am the leading actor, the star of this movie that will be longer in length than even the director’s cut of Avatar.
The movie is called, “The Life of Andy Beal” and it’s a role that I’m still learning and a character that I am still developing. Fortunately, this movie is not something that I am simply “winging.” Nope, you see, this movie has a director, writer, and producer that has more clout, more impressive credentials, and greater vision than even Steven Spielberg. The director of my movie is….God.
I know I just lost some of my non-believing friends at this point, but bear with me. Even if you’re a complete nihilist or atheist, you may still find something of value in my movie.
While I am the main actor of this movie, there’s a script, a story, that my Director has written down for me to follow. If I stick to the script, this movie is going to be amazing. If I don’t, then it will still be a good movie—how can it not, with such a great Director—but for it to be a blockbuster, I must listen to His direction.
Of course, I don’t always listen to my Director. I improvise some, ad-lib a little, and sometimes try to play the role by suggesting we change a scene, or take the main character (me) in a different direction. He flexes some, after all, He’s not one of these tyrant Directors. He let’s me try things my own way, but when all is said and done, just about anything that I tried outside of His directing, ends up tossed on the editing room floor. After that, it’s swept into the trash and burned up.
Now, like most movie actors, I get to see snippets of the final version of the movie. If I get fully into my character and listen to my Director, I can see glimpses of how this movie plays out, but it’s not until the end of filming—the end of my life—that I can look back and see what was the movie all about. Just what exactly did “The Life of Andy Beal” all mean? It’s after we’ve wrapped up filming that I sit down with the Director and He shows me the final product. Then, just like the director’s commentary you find on many DVDs these days, He talks me through what each scene meant. Why did the plot take a twist here? Why did this supporting character get killed off so early? Why did my character have to suffer at this point? It’s not until I get to view the entire movie that I see what every scene actually meant and how they pieced together.
So, back to this “I’ve discovered the meaning of life” question. I’ve spent countless hours trying to think about what my role is in the world. What’s the purpose of my life? What I’ve discovered—and hopefully found long-term peace in—is that my purpose is to play out the role that God is directing. The individual scenes may not make sense, and there may be times where a certain scene appears boring or unpleasant, but nevertheless, my role in life is to play the part assigned to me. That is the only meaning that I can know until the day comes that I get to sit down with God and have Him explain to me what it all meant.
On that day, I hope I see that I’ve given an Oscar-winning performance. Not perfect, but one where the Director tells me, “well done, good and faithful” actor.
Postscript: I’m still fleshing out this analogy. Some parts may not make sense. You may also find flaws or arguments in my analogy. However, just like a good script, it may take a few re-writes before I get everything to make sense, In the meantime, I’m happy with the overall explanation. :-)