On The Subject Of Meaning

by Arleen Lorrance


One of the happiest periods of my life was when I was 18. First of all, as some of you may recognize in yourself, I knew everything. Secondly, I had few responsibilities. I was dating, going to college, dating, working, dating, etc. Young men were very much on my mind and in my life explorations. The fellows I dated had one important quality in common. They were all intelligent.

My most nourishing memories from that year were dates in Greenwich Village in New York City. My young man of the evening and I would sit at a well-worn wooden table in a smoke-filled coffeehouse drinking cappuccino, or my favorite, a hot brew with a cinnamon stick standing in it. As we sipped and gazed into each other’s eyes, we talked philosophically. We pondered life and meaning. We came to irrefutable conclusions.

Now and then, strangers from other tables would join our probing of truth. Opinions would fly. Resolutions would be sought. Arguments would ensue. Consensus would be reached. We would drink more Java. We would solve the problems of the world every Friday night and wonder why the troubles started up again before the weekend was put to sleep.

Those evenings were especially important for me because I was suffering the frustration of not doing well in my college philosophy class. The professor fed us famous philosopher’s points of view and wanted us to be able to parrot them. By this time I had had 13 years of this ineffectual kind of education and I was into rebellion. When I was called on to speak in class or asked to respond on a test, I offered my own thinking on the subject. I incorporated some of what the studied philosopher expounded but then I took it all to the next level as I saw it, adding the implications of the times in which we lived. This did not endear me to the professor. The class had not been designed to encourage independent thinking.

But those Friday nights in Greenwich Village coffeehouses gave me free reign to explore the corners of my mind, permission to visit inner rooms of intuition and to bring forth knowing that was no where requested in my formal education.

We were all young and searching for meaning. This life we were living had to be about something and we were determined to find out what that was. As it turned out for me, meaning came only after my spiritual breakthroughs when I had had a first-hand experience of knowing and merging with the God Force.

Here I am 41 years later. A lot has changed. The coffeehouses are not smoke-filled anymore and I know a lot less today than I did back then. I can hardly believe how sure I was of everything when I was 18.

These days, my convictions are held together with fewer nails. I leave myself the option of taking down the structures I have built that represent truth as I know it.

Take for example the matter of reincarnation. I have done recalls of past lives with two of the finest people in the field. I have confirmed the validity of at least one such life by going to England and not only finding the town but seeing a sketch in an old church of what the area looked like at the time I lived there as John Selby. It was just as I had described it. Now if I were 18, I would tell you, there it is, irrefutable proof.

However, today I would say, it’s possible. But then again, am I considering this in too linear a fashion? Perhaps the truth lies elsewhere. Perhaps lives are lived concurrently. Perhaps each of us is sometimes able to cross barriers of time and space and experience other personalities as if they were our own. Perhaps … there are many such. There are possibilities beyond our dreams.

Now again, I ask myself about the meaning of life. For starters, I know there are as many meanings as there are people asking the question. So much for consensus or dogma. And there are also those who believe that there is no meaning.


I recently had a date with my own mind. I wasn’t in New York so I didn’t take it to one of my old Village haunts. But I did look into my own inner eyes and raised a question that I am pondering still.

Are we here to discover the meaning in all things? Or are we the creators of meaning?

I’d like to think that there is meaning and that our purpose in life is to grow, evolve, and uncover the wisdom that awaits us. But there are times when I wonder about it all. What if we are in fact the creators of meaning? What if we have developed echelons of evolution and invented paths to walk and spiritual milestones to accomplish? What if everything we believe in, or convince ourselves we know, or think we have deduced is our fantasy, our form of entertainment while we live out our days?

I wonder about all this because of how many different belief systems there are. We all cling to our approaches, our methodology, our complex ways. We envision that if we follow our particular path, we will arrive at … at what? Everlasting life? Heaven? Sainthood? Avatar status? The need to no longer be embodied?

Whatever our belief, knowing or system, we humans seems to have it all carefully laid out so that it can be taught to future generations. We have highly creative structures, perhaps, to convince ourselves that we are here for some grand purpose. And maybe we are. Maybe we have, through sages and seers, developed the means to discipline our lives and guide ourselves to the next and waiting stage of humanness. But what if we’ve made it all up, developed meaning for solace lest we go mad without purpose and order?

Are we here to discover the meaning in all things?

Or are we the creators of meaning?

Maybe there’s no difference between the two?

Maybe that’s the real cosmic joke.


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