Finding Meaning

Today I was watching one of my favorite TV comedies, The Big Bang Theory. It is a really funny show based on the lives of geeky scientists who work at a university. In this particular episode an older scientist had died and so Lenard, Howard and Raj have to clean out his office. While throwing most of the work away, Howard finds a notebook with many numbers and so they try to give meaning to it, wondering whether the old man was on the verge of a great breakthrough. Eventually they find out that the numbers stand for calories and that the old man was just writing down the calories of what he was eating.

The show always makes me laugh, but today I noticed something Howard Wolowitz said and it really made me think. Upon finding out that the deceased scientist never achieved anything great in science Howard said ‘’I guess the sad truth is not everyone will accomplish something great. Some of us may just have to find meaning in the little moments that make up life.’’ This statement scared me and made me feel relieved at the same time. It terrified me because it showed me the truth, telling me that I may never accomplish anything great in my life. At the same time I found comfort in the thought that meaning can even be found in the smallest of our actions.

After I thought about it a little more I only found myself asking more questions. Who defines what a ‘great’ accomplishment is? Why is finding meaning so important to us? Why can’t we just enjoy moments and be satisfied instead of searching for something greater, some disguised significance? Needless to say, I don’t really know… However I think that a great accomplishment doesn’t necessarily have to be in your career, it can be anything. It can be helping or changing the life of just a single person or even taking in that stray dog and giving it shelter. Who are we to say that someone hasn’t accomplished something ‘great’ just because they never proved string theory?

Some people go down in history books and some don’t, but that doesn’t mean that they accomplished something great and the ones forgotten haven’t. Surely we can’t say that what Hitler accomplished was ‘great’ and everybody seems to remember his name… At the same time I don’t believe that finding ‘’meaning in the little moments that make up life’’ is just a consolation price. In fact wouldn’t we be so much happier if we just enjoyed every moment, found meaning in it and didn’t spent our entire lives striving towards a goal that we may never accomplish?


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