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The Path to the Meaning of Life

An Essay By Trevor Stone

November 1995, Sophomore Year, New Vista High School

The most important day I remember in all my life came unexpectedly, with a knock upon my door. A Jehovah's witness stood there, for the third time, peddling her wares. Pamphlets galore, numerous copies of The Bible, and the so-called "Word of God." She tried to sell the all-too-familiar assumption that The Bible is nothing but the truth. She made numerous references to John, Matthew, and Genesis with a logic that does not stand up under strong analysis. How I remember her manipulative conversation skills as she avoided true logic and philosophic debate.

Like a cat, the realization of the meaning of life crept upon me. It is not the information she brought that will stick in my mind, but what I learned. I cannot remember the words she said but, suddenly, while trying to get the conversation into logical order, I discovered the ultimate road--"the road that goes ever on," the path to the meaning of life. The Jehovah's witness played the role of a mere road sign pointing the way. Somewhere between logic and confusion, I happened upon the intersection of Christianity, Taoism, and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Once there, I surveyed my surroundings and discovered that the road leading away journeyed to the meaning of life.

As I bid her adieu, my blood boiled with excitement. Adrenaline perched on my shoulder, digging in its claws, urging my mind to race faster. I floated out of the house and around the yard, calmly searching my mind for quotes, beliefs, ideas, anything that would support my discovery. Lao Tse, Douglas Adams, Billy Crystal, they all backed up my finding. Religions, considered adverse for so long, united for my cause. I was high on life, the path to the meaning of life, anyway. "Write it down," she said. She always says that. (If I wrote down everything she told me to I would have a filing cabinet stuffed full of scraps of paper.) But this, I did not write down. I needed no written directions, I locked the map in my brain and kept following the way.

"So, what is the meaning of life?" she said.

"I don't know that," I said, "I said I found the PATH to the meaning of life. It involves Taoist thought, insights of many writers from different times and places, and personal reflection on life, the universe, and everything. I've been high on it for two hours."

"Oh. What is the path to the meaning of life?" she asked. Everyone wants to know that. It is probably the most sought piece of knowledge in the history of the world.

"Find out yourself," I returned, watching understanding creep across her face. I mentally mapped out an explanation to be written down some day. "What works of literature show a piece of my thesis?" I pondered. I thought about all of the books I had read. The Hitchhiker's Guide flashed through my head. The Tao Te Ching and Winnie the Pooh pointed the way. L. Frank Baum and J. R. R. Tolkien contributed to my thoughts. Dorothy Gale and Tom Bombadil gave up a chance for power, often considered the meaning of life, to pursue their paths. And Pooh, without intending to, followed his own path to the meaning of life, even when he followed his own tracks.

"What events can lead to your conclusion?" my inner self asked. I glanced through the time line in my head. After a few moments, came the answer: "all of history." And all of the histories of other dimensions, and universes led to this conclusion. I searched for examples: evolution, inter-connectivity, cyberspace. Everything takes its own path to the never-ending whole. I decided to set foot upon the road to the meaning of life. I took a few meaningful steps, starting on the right road. I then concentrated on the scenery, letting my feet do the walking and life do the talking.

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