Live Long and Prosper

19 Nov

NaNoWriNO Day 19

Topic: The meaning of life



An anonymous person e-mailed me, and the only thing the e-mail said was, “For your blog challenge you need to figure out the meaning of life.” Oh, is that all? Sounds like a piece of cake.

I’m not sure what this person is looking for. Spiritual guidance? Answers for a research paper? Stuff that can be used to impress someone he/she is trying to woo. If so, this is the wrong place for that.

Still, I kind of like the challenge. This is like the time someone said I couldn’t drink a bottle of tequila and finish an entire large pizza by myself. I rocked the dare, and completed it in less than an hour. This will be just like that, but with a lot less vomiting afterwards.

So what is the meaning of life? I started thinking about how love is obviously at the center of life. No, it’s hope. Maybe happiness? Truth. Free will. Mindfulness. Morality.

Well, damn.

Then I started thinking about my life, and what gives it meaning. I realized it’s not one thing, it’s a multitude of things. It’s deeply personal. It’s about my values and desires. It’s about about living every day in a way that would make me proud of the life I’ve lived if I died tomorrow.

Here’s how I choose to live my life:

Being a good person. Smiling at strangers. Using my manners. Tipping my waiter. Allowing the car in the lane next to me to merge. When things are on sale and I stock up, I leave one thing on the shelf so someone else can get it on sale too.

Acts of service. Helping a friend move. Buying a coworker lunch just because. Cooking my friend her favorite meal. Offering to watch a friend’s kid so she and her husband can have alone time. Doing the dishes even though it’s not my turn.

Laughter. Watching the same funny movies over and over. Doing my valley girl and southern accent impersonations because it makes my friend laugh. Threatening my teenage sister that I’ll do the tootsie roll at her next high school dance.

Giving back. Donating money as often as I’m able to. Buying the stranger in the car behind me a coffee at a Starbucks drive-thru. Carrying around quarters and giving them to homeless people. Adopting a family during the holidays.

Experiencing nature. Going for a hike. Visiting a waterfall I’ve only seen in magazines. Standing outside in the rain. Literally stopping and smelling the roses. Dipping my toe into the Columbia River. Kayaking on lakes.

Being a big sister. Holding it together when they need me to be strong for them. Listening when they are going through tough times. Offering advice from experience. Not taking sides when they’re in a fight.

Creating. Finding and attempting new DIY projects. Making art instead of buying it. Writing on this blog. Trying my hand at new recipes. Dressing in a way that’s unique to me.

Self-sufficiency. Working hard so I don’t have to depend on anyone else to take care of me. Thinking out the problem instead of immediately running to someone else for the answer. My independent spirit.

Being myself. Living my life according to my own plan. Never being afraid to admit that I listen to Britney Spears, or watch reality television. Dancing in the middle of the grocery store because it’s fun. Authenticity in my actions.

What’s the meaning of your life?


Thanks to the mystery (wo)man who suggested this topic. Perhaps your goal was to get me to think about my own life, and to get others thinking about theirs? Much appreciated.

NaNoWriNO Day 18

NaNoWriNO Day 20

89 Responses to “Live Long and Prosper”

  1. MissFourEyes 11/19/2012 at 6:11 am #

    This post made me smile. It’s probably going to make me smile all day. You are truly a wonderful, wonderful person :)

    • Jen and Tonic 11/19/2012 at 3:56 pm #

      I hope it did! Smiles make the world a better place.

  2. Lovely post today, Jen.

    The older I get, the more the meaning of life (or the way to live it) becomes clear.
    1. Live your life with honesty
    2. Be kind to others
    3. Follow your dreams
    4. Share yourself with the people that matter
    5. Challenge yourself beyond your fears
    6. Keep close to people or things that inspire you; and avoid, as best you can, the thoughts that don’t
    7. Stand up to injustice
    8. Ask the question: Do I really need this or do I want it?
    9. I agree with you: Smile – it helps
    10. Allow some moments to be alone – it’s rejuvenating.

    • Jen and Tonic 11/19/2012 at 3:57 pm #

      AH! That’s a good list. #10 is so so so so so so important. I think a little solitude is good for the soul.

  3. Bill Friday 11/19/2012 at 6:28 am #

    Getting up early some days has it’s advantages. Like being able to comment before the sun comes up. Not used to that, but here goes. I used to believe I knew exactly what the meaning of life was… until I didn’t anymore. Then, after an appropriate period of mourning, I realized that the meaning of life starts by leaving your heart open just enough to let love in. Because if you do, love has a way of seeking its own… and finding you.

    That’s all I got.

    • Dani Heart 11/19/2012 at 9:09 am #

      That’s just enough Bill. :)

    • Jen and Tonic 11/19/2012 at 3:59 pm #

      Always full of wisdom, Mr. Friday. And sometimes, if you’re lucky, someone comes along with a blow dryer and melts the ice around your heart.

  4. aliceatwonderland 11/19/2012 at 6:44 am #

    Cookies. C is for Cookie, that’s good enough for me. I’m incredibly philosophical this morning.

  5. Madame Weebles 11/19/2012 at 7:01 am #

    You, my friend, are an extremely good person. If we had been in the Donner Party together and I outlived you, I would have eaten you last.

    • Jen and Tonic 11/19/2012 at 4:00 pm #

      I don’t know if there is a higher compliment than that. *Cue Brokeback Mountain scenery* “I can’t eat you”

  6. badfads 11/19/2012 at 7:18 am #

    I think that a lot of your points, and a lot of mine fall into the same sub-header: Be a Good Person. As a tangent to that, one of the guiding points I try to live by is one of being cool about the big stuff. I’m bitchy about small things, like leggings as pants or the twilight books being the worst thing ever written, but I don’t care if you’re gay or straight, where you’re from, what you do to live, etc., I just try to be understanding and cool.

    And even from my short time in following you, it seems like you do a good job of living according to your principles, which is something I respect.

    • Jen and Tonic 11/19/2012 at 4:02 pm #

      We’re kind of the same person. I should be scared (can the world handle two of us?) but instead I think it’s just plain awesome.

      And yeah, I’ve thrown fits when I find out my favorite pair of socks has a hole in them, but when I got into an accident several years back I was like, “No problem, bro.”

      • badfads 11/20/2012 at 6:26 am #

        There may be three of us. I have a friend who is quite literally twenty minutes younger than me, alarmingly similar in personality and interests, and is married to my ex boyfriend. They’re sleeping in my guest room as we speak. Together, the three of us will make the world more awesome.

    • Love and Lunchmeat 11/19/2012 at 7:47 pm #

      LEGGINGS ARE NOT PANTS people. Sorry, but that really needed to be capitalized. Carry on.

      • badfads 11/20/2012 at 6:27 am #

        That is perhaps one of the more frequently used tags on my blog alongside “what in the actual fuck were you thinking?”

  7. timmer 11/19/2012 at 7:25 am #

    Approaching it from an angle of what is the meaning of YOUR life was a nice touch. WHICH MADE THE WHOLE POST EVEN MORE RELATABLE!

    • Jen and Tonic 11/19/2012 at 4:03 pm #

      You’ve been soul searching as well? Do all roads lead back to markers and photoshop because I imagine you being the mad scientist of artists.

  8. littlemisswordy 11/19/2012 at 7:40 am #

    “Authenticity in my actions” sums it up for me! We should all strive to be more authentic in all we do. Not only would we be happier, but we would make others around us happier as well. Great post!

    • Jen and Tonic 11/19/2012 at 4:04 pm #

      You’re exactly right. Our actions don’t just impact us, they impact others as well. I also find that the more true to yourself you are, the more like-minded people you attract. You just perpetuate more goodness in your life.

  9. RFL 11/19/2012 at 7:45 am #

    Another great post, Jen. I’m going to be sad when November is over, because you’ve made me think about the world in a different way every day this month.

    • Jen and Tonic 11/19/2012 at 4:05 pm #

      Thanks so much! One of my good friends (and a follower of this blog) is trying to push me to write every day during December as well. The holidays will be tough, but I promise I’ll be writing more regularly. This challenge has proved to me that I can.

  10. jmlindy422 11/19/2012 at 8:11 am #

    I realized a little while ago that every decision I’ve made for the last 17 years has centered around my children, being available for them and helping them to grow into caring, productive adults.

    • Jen and Tonic 11/19/2012 at 4:06 pm #

      It seems like that may have surprised you? I hope you’re proud of that discovery. It’s not easy to raise children, especially ones that are caring and productive.

  11. michellestodden 11/19/2012 at 8:57 am #

    You’re a good egg, Jen.

    • Jen and Tonic 11/19/2012 at 4:07 pm #

      I’m glad I’m not a rotten one. They smell like farts.

  12. Dani Heart 11/19/2012 at 9:14 am #

    Well I love everything you said Jen. I especially subscribe to living your life in a manner that would not have regrets if it ended tomorrow. Love is the only thing that transcends this… we can’t go wrong when we love. :)

    • Jen and Tonic 11/19/2012 at 4:08 pm #

      Love does have the power to uplift us, doesn’t it? It has been a hard journey learning how to love other people, and love myself as well. It’s totally worth it.

  13. Viciously Sweet 11/19/2012 at 10:04 am #

    Oh fabulous Jen. I totally agree with you. All of the little things that make us who we are is the real meaning of our existence. We have to share our spirit with the world, and try to make it a little better while we’re here.
    Your post is truly inspiring, awesome, and quirky just like you my dearest Jen!

    • Jen and Tonic 11/19/2012 at 4:10 pm #

      This is just it! You have to share it with the world. I spent so many years being shy and quiet and afraid of being the real me that I wonder how my life would have turned out if I had spread the “Jen Crazy” everywhere.

      You do a GREAT job of spreading the happy everywhere. It’s one of the biggest reasons I like you so much.

      • Viciously Sweet 11/19/2012 at 4:39 pm #

        That is one of the reasons I admire you too! You are just fantastic to me. You are like a big ball of good energy. And the world totally needs that. We’re Tina & Amy-ing it up for the internet set.

        • Jen and Tonic 11/19/2012 at 4:45 pm #

          Let’s get some mozzarella sticks!!!

          • Viciously Sweet 11/19/2012 at 4:48 pm #

            That is one of my favorite fried cheese concoctions. I’m game. ;)

  14. La La 11/19/2012 at 11:09 am #

    This made me think for sure. I think the meaning of my life is love. I was meant to give it and inspire hope in others. Great post, Jen.

    • Jen and Tonic 11/19/2012 at 4:16 pm #

      I love how openhearted you are. Your desire to give and get love is something I really admire. I’m working on it (I love people, but it’s hard for me to accept it in return) and hope to get to the point you’re at one day.

  15. calahan 11/19/2012 at 11:56 am #

    I love that you buy people behind you coffee. That’s so cool.

    • Jen and Tonic 11/19/2012 at 4:19 pm #

      True story: I was having the worst day about 4 years ago. I was out of work, feeling badly about myself, got into a fight with my boyfriend, etc. I went to Starbucks to get out of the house and treat myself to something. When I got up to the drive-thru window, the cashier told me that someone had paid for me. It made me feel so much better. My hope is that I can one day buy coffee for someone who *really* needs that pick me up. If not, then I just made someone’s smile brighter. Always a win.

      • calahan 11/19/2012 at 5:31 pm #

        That’s a very cool story.

  16. lovelifelaundry 11/19/2012 at 1:14 pm #

    The meaning of life huh! However dark i is, always leave a little space open for the sunshine to creep in, make sure to smile every day, buy my children a treat sometimes just because.
    This is a great post, glad I found you

    • Jen and Tonic 11/19/2012 at 4:22 pm #

      That last bit reminded me of my mom. She’d go to the grocery store or drug store, and just buy us a little something. It wasn’t the gifting, it was that she was thinking of us. I love that.

      Also, big props to you for managing to keep a sliver of happiness in the dark times. It really is a hard thing to do.

  17. Lyssapants 11/19/2012 at 1:41 pm #

    My life has meaning because I share it with other people.

  18. Storkhunter 11/19/2012 at 1:44 pm #

    My meaning of life is being able to look in the mirror and say to myself “you did good today.” I do that by:
    1. trying to remain positive
    2. smiling at strangers
    3. using my brains as well as my emotions
    4. letting my son play with water because he loves it even though I know I will have a flood to clean up after
    5. being honest with myself and others.

    I love this post and I love that you wrote it. I also love that you buy the people behind you coffee. That is just awesome.

    • Jen and Tonic 11/19/2012 at 4:25 pm #

      You’re absolutely right. If you can look at yourself every day and can honestly say you gave it your best shot, you’ve lived the best life you could have.

  19. SocietyRed 11/19/2012 at 2:49 pm #

    This is a great post. You are a great person. I’m glad to know you.

  20. Fern DeVilliers 11/19/2012 at 3:44 pm #

    I like the coffee thing too. And threatening your sister with the Tootsie Roll dance. For me, the meaning of life has to do with trying to find something good out of every day. Like today, I didn’t have to make dinner. Yeah!

    • Jen and Tonic 11/19/2012 at 4:27 pm #

      What good is it being a big sister if you can’t embarrass your much younger sibling sometimes? Now I know why parents love to do it to their kids.

      YAY for not having to make dinner. That is definitely a reason to smile.

  21. Storkhunter 11/19/2012 at 4:15 pm #

    Jen, I’ve nominated you for the Liebster award. You can check it out on my blog.
    I don’t know how to add links to comments so you’re going to have to do the whole copy/paste thing

    • Jen and Tonic 11/19/2012 at 4:28 pm #

      Ah, it hyperlinked on its own. Thank you so much!! I’ll make sure to do this once this NaNoWhyTheHellDidISignUpForThis ends.

  22. sweetmother 11/19/2012 at 4:33 pm #

    i like you.

    my life plans:

    1. drinking beer just because… and good wine. and the occasional tequila.
    2. making everyone laugh. sometimes strangers, sometimes good friends.
    3. selling a story of value (i’ll let you know when that happens)
    4. loving my wifesy
    5. loving my dog
    6. loving my friends
    7. and i want to try that starbux thing, just because… i think anonymous kindness goes a long way…

    excellent post. glad i suggested it to you. okay, i didn’t. yes, i did. no, i didn’t. yes… well, you’ll have to decide. loooool. xo, sm

    • Jen and Tonic 11/19/2012 at 4:47 pm #

      #2 you do regularly. Seriously, the fact that you’ve written quality material every single day amazes me. You WILL be selling a story someday.

      And do try the Starbucks thing. It really puts a little pep in your step.

      Oh, and I KNEW IT WAS YOU!

      • sweetmother 11/19/2012 at 5:01 pm #

        loooooooool. have you done the starbux thing for reals? because i honestly think that makes you more amazeballs then i already thought you were. and i had you up there pretty high… and thanks for the sweet words. i hear them. i promise, i do. xoxo, sm

        • Jen and Tonic 11/19/2012 at 5:10 pm #

          I really do, about once a month. I usually do it at a drive-thru, but occasionally I’ll just point the person behind me and say, “I want to buy him/her a coffee or treat.”

  23. jdanryan 11/19/2012 at 4:35 pm #

    Great piece today; I think your Blogtober’s going a lot better than mine is.

    As for the meaning of my life…

    …damned if I know; and that’s by design!

    Seriously, a life that is known, laid out, all the pieces on the board able to be seen from above, that’s a life in danger of ennui, threatened by heat death and collapse in on itself, its passing lost in the background blather. I’d rather take a chance, try something different, be willing to go somewhere not gone before.

    And knowing the meaning of it all sort of defeats the whole purpose; part of the process is figuring it out, discovering what works, what makes sense. And in the process, being ready to get smacked upside the head with a new lesson.

    Sure, you can have a few general guidelines, but deep meaning out of any of that? You may as well look for great literature in the pages of a coloring book…

    • Jen and Tonic 11/19/2012 at 4:42 pm #

      Wait, wait…you’re still participating?! WordPress hasn’t been notifying me. I’m going to unsub and resub you.

      I love what you said about us not needing to know the meaning because we’re on a constant discovery of it. You’re absolutely right. One of the things I’ve loved is being able to look back (blogging is great for that) and see where I’ve been.

      Also, 1000000+ points for not taking the path of least resistance.

      • jdanryan 11/19/2012 at 6:38 pm #

        WordPress stopped informing on me? The swine…

  24. writerwendyreid 11/19/2012 at 4:35 pm #

    I loved this post Jen. You really are a wonderful woman. xo

  25. speaker7 11/19/2012 at 4:43 pm #

    My meaning of life is making it a little better before I leave it. Oh, and eating lots of french fries.

  26. Ashley Austrew 11/19/2012 at 5:39 pm #

    What a great idea for a post! You sound like a lovely person to know :)

  27. Love and Lunchmeat 11/19/2012 at 7:51 pm #

    The anonymous coffee is just about the nicest thing ever. I’m not sure what the meaning of my life is, aside from getting my children to adulthood without too much emotional scarring. I may have to get back to you on that.

    • Jen and Tonic 11/23/2012 at 11:31 am #

      Getting your kids to adulthood without scarring them is a hard thing to do. It’s why I’m not having kids. I’d surely leave them with hundreds of thousands of dollars in therapy bills.

  28. A Dog With Fleas 11/19/2012 at 8:23 pm #

    Wonderful post and love your list!! The meaning of life to me is to live the next day better then the last by learning one new thing each day. Loving my family, do not live in judgement of others and always live your life in kindness. Even in the cashier is snotty and disgruntled, just think that maybe she is having a bad day and give everyone the benefit of the doubt.

    And for this great post, hope someone buys you coffee tomorrow!

    • Jen and Tonic 11/23/2012 at 11:32 am #

      The different meanings to your life are wonderful! I love the idea of living your life in kindness. The world would be a better place if we all did that.

  29. iRuniBreathe 11/19/2012 at 9:56 pm #

    I’m liking your “lead by example” (without being pretentious) take on life. Simple acts of kindness and caring go a long way, whether acknowledged or not.
    I tried the Starbucks thing but I never know what the person behind me in line wants to drink. Do you just decided on an arbitrary amount and call it good?

    • Jen and Tonic 11/23/2012 at 11:34 am #

      If I’m at the drive up window, I ask the cashier what the person behind me is having. If it’s a lot of stuff, I say I’ll buy one of the drinks. If it’s in person, I’ll turn to the person behind me and just tell them I want to buy them a drink of their choice that day.

      • iRuniBreathe 11/23/2012 at 11:53 am #

        Duh. Of course they would already know at the drive up window what the next person was having. I completely forgot about that (obvious) fact.

        I once offered to pay for someone’s really expensive cheese in the grocery store. It had somehow been rung in with my groceries but I only noticed that cheese that was not mine was going into my bags. I said to save everyone the trouble I’d just pay for it and we could leave things as is. But both the cashier and the person in line behind me were so embarrassed they just wanted the charge removed and to pay for it themselves. Funny when we can’t even accept what is given to us.

        • Jen and Tonic 11/23/2012 at 12:22 pm #

          Absolutely! It is really hard for people to accept little acts of kindness. It’s why the drive thru thing is perfect, I’m already gone and they can’t refuse.

  30. GiggsMcGill Jill 11/19/2012 at 10:13 pm #

    This is beautiful! :) You’re beautiful! ^.^

    • Jen and Tonic 11/23/2012 at 11:34 am #

      Thanks! I’ve been lucky to meet other beautiful people (like you) here on WordPress.

  31. Kimberly 11/19/2012 at 10:48 pm #

    Wonderful wonderful wonderful! Also, I am impressed – so impressed – with your daily posts and their quality! Whoop! Keep at it!

    • Jen and Tonic 11/23/2012 at 11:35 am #

      Thanks for saying that! I’ve wondered if everyone realized how hard I’ve had to push myself the last week days as opposed to the first week. It has been rough, and I was hoping it didn’t show too much ;)

  32. Adrienne schmadrienne 11/20/2012 at 6:18 am #

    Love it! I was just recently pondering the meaning of life and I came up with no grand meaning. I don’t feel a need to attach a profound purpose to my existence but I think it’s uber important to just be a good person. As I get older I realize that simplicity is important. The things I put importance on I didn’t learn through religion. I learned them by being considerate and respectful. Life’s too short to take things so seriously.

    • Jen and Tonic 11/23/2012 at 11:37 am #

      Simplicity IS Important. It’s only something I’ve learned in the last few years, and it has really helped me clarify many things in my life. And totally agreed, life is way too short to be so serious.

  33. vyvacious 11/20/2012 at 10:58 am #

    The meaning of my life is FOOD. I love to eat it, create it, and share it. I love traveling the world just so that people can share with me their culture and society through food. I love that my family and friends know that it’s integrated deep within me and they strive to connect to me via my food obsession.

    I also live for the spontaneity of life within my very tightly-scheduled days. I too love dancing when no one and everyone is watching. I like to help people see the brighter things in life.

    Thanks for your post :)

    • Jen and Tonic 11/23/2012 at 11:39 am #

      Anybody whose meaning of life is food is a friend of mine! I think it’s a great way to celebrate, to bond, to show someone you love them, show them how you grew up. Food can actually say a lot about a person.

      • vyvacious 11/23/2012 at 12:18 pm #

        I completely agree! I love all the different layers and personality that can come from multiple variations of a dish. I almost thrive off of making a dish slightly modified each time to project how I’m feeling at that very second.

  34. benzeknees 11/20/2012 at 1:49 pm #

    I think share love & be kind are the best things a person can do with their life. I have participated in the “Pay It Forward” thing by buying coffee for a person behind me in the drive-thru at Tim Horton’s & have been a recipient of having coffee bought for me. I don’t know which one feels better because they both feel amazing!

    • Jen and Tonic 11/23/2012 at 11:40 am #

      Ah! You’ve done it too? Isn’t it the most amazing feeling in the world? Kudos to you for spreading kindness.

  35. travellingmo 12/12/2012 at 10:42 am #

    That was pretty awesome. I too am having a hard time wrapping my head around that question but I don’t think I could answer as perfectly as you have! I am currently stuck in retail during the holiday season so reading something this genuine and meaningful really helps to get through. Thanks!

    • Jen and Tonic 12/14/2012 at 6:26 pm #

      Retail during anytime of the year is hard, but during the holidays is even harder. Lots of positive thoughts your way! May the customers not suck donkey balls.


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