The Meaning of Life


To those wondering where I have been this week, after all my trumpeting about 30-clumps and 30-posts, I fell shy of my goal the last two days of the challenge.  I ended up in the emergency room with severe stomach pains Tuesday, and after a few days of pain management and becoming fused to our couch, I am better.  Without going into TMI territory, I’ll just say it is something fixable.

Even still, I will be taking a two week break from Clump A Day.  Thank you for your support and energy that have kept me going.  I look forward to getting back on track!

I’ll leave you with an excerpt from The Week magazine, that itself was an excerpt from an article that originally appeared in, entitled Skiing with the Dalai Lama.  I’ve been turning it over in my head since I read it.  The author relates his experience in the mid ’80’s when the Dalai Lama visited Santa Fe, New Mexico, and he served as his press secretary.  After a trip up a ski lift after the Dalai Lama expressed a desire to see skiing, the party went back to the lodge.  A waitress there sat down and asked the Dalai Lama:

“Can I, um, ask a question?”


She spoke with complete seriousness.  “What is the meaning of life?”

In my entire week with the Dalai Lama, every conceivable question had been asked–except this one.  People had been afraid to ask the one–the really big–question.  There was a brief, stunned silence.

The Dalai Lama answered immediately.  “The meaning of life is happiness.”  He raised his finger, leaning forward, focusing on her as if she were the only person in the world.  “Hard question is not, ‘What is meaning of life?’  That easy question to answer!  No, hard question is what make happiness.  Money?  Big house?  Accomplishment?  Friends?  Or…”  He paused.  “Compassion and good heart?  This is question all human beings must try to answer:  What make true happiness?”  He gave this last question a peculiar emphasis and then fell silent, gazing at her with a smile.

Thank you, she said, “thank you.”  She got up and finished stacking the dirty dishes and cups, and took them away.


The Power of Love in Action

Clump #105:  Confront and pare down gift list with online purchases.

I have been declumping every day, but the truth is, I’ve been avoiding my Christmas gift list.  Like an armadillo curled up and in denial.  Today has been Cyber Monday, a day for online shopping, a good time to break out of my funk.  Tomorrow is Giving Tuesday.  I listened to a woman talk about Giving Tuesday this morning on the radio.  Her comments ended with a quote from The Dalai Lama: “It’s not enough to be compassionate.  You must act.”

The company, TOMS One for One, makes it easy to shop online and give to a good cause.  Its website,, describes the company’s origin: “In 2006, American traveler Blake Mycoskie befriended children in a village in Argentina and found they had no shoes to protect their feet.  Wanting to help, he created TOMS, a company that would match every pair of shoes purchased with a pair of new shoes given to a child in need.  One for One.”  Offering shoes expanded to glasses, and then to all sorts of cool gift items.  I liked a necklace with a whistle as a pendant, and read that it was “A replica of the symbol that sparked the Falling Whistles movement … It serves as a reminder to be a whistle blower for peace … you are helping Falling Whistles rebuild war-torn communities in Congo.”


I looked up the Falling Whistles movement, and was appalled and, well, moved.  In the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo, “whistleblowers: child soldier too small to hold guns, sent to the front lines of crossfire, armed only with a small whistle.  Their sole responsibility was to make enough noise to attract and alarm the enemy, and then receive — with their bodies — the first line of gunfire. Serving as a protective barrier of sorts for their armed counterparts, these boys had to fien death — or die.  Thus was launched Falling Whistles, an organization and movement which purposes these tools for combat as necklaces.  As such they become symbols of peace, not weapons of war.”


As so often happens, the synchronistic quote that came my way couldn’t have been more appropriate: