Tuesday, October 19, 2010

What's The Point?

A couple of days ago, an 87 year-old friend of mine confided to me that she is ready to die. "What's the point of going on?" she asked. "I don't do anything useful. I don't contribute to society. I'm just a drain on everybody, and it's only going to get worse with time."

So we discussed this very interesting question. What is the point? Alan Watts once said that "the point of life is reached in every moment." If that is true, then this moment is the point. Just this.

I also remembered the Frank Capra film It's A Wonderful Life, with Jimmy Stewart as a man who decides life is just not worth the struggle any more and wishes he had never been born. An angel sent to help him gives him his wish, and the rest of the movie is about all the things that were different because this one man never existed. "One man's life touches so many other lives," Clarence, the angel, tells him.

So I reminded my elder friend that she has the potential to affect the life of every person she meets. Even a momentary conversation on an elevator or in line at the grocery store has the potential to offer a new perspective that could alter the course of history. In this way, as long as she can make contact with the world, she has usefulness in the world. Without her, the world would be a different place, and when she goes, the world will be poorer for it. That is the point.


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