What is the meaning of life? In general, there are three types of answers: 1. Yes, life is meaningful as explained by many philosophers; 2. No, life has no meaning as believed by many ordinary people. 3. I don’t care. The last type of answer is very common, maybe because you’re too busy without the time to reflect, maybe you have heard the question too many times without finding a satisfying answer, or maybe you just don’t care. Honestly, I don’t have all your answers to the meaning of life, but I think it’s important for you to care. Different people may find different meanings of life and here was my journey:
I have a habit of getting myself into troubles. I could have stayed home and sleep, instead of going out of my comfort zone to tell you this story. When I was in high school, I had a goal. I wanted to be the president of the student union since I was ambitious and I did not want to waste my valuable youth time.
I studied in Hong Kong, and as you may know, Hong Kong has one of the most stressful public examinations to decide which students were qualified to go to university. Most students goal was just to get a good grade, get into the best university and get a good job after graduation with a high paying salary. However, since I loved to get myself into trouble, so I decided to be run a campaign to be elected as the president of the student union.
At that time, I was talking to my physics teacher, he told me “ if you became the president of the student union, then most likely you would not be able to go to the university, since you would fail in your public examination. There were statistic data to show that most presidents were too busy to handle both organizing events, maintaining relationships with his girlfriend and studying for the public examination.”
At that time, I was talking to my girlfriend. She was the best student in my class with all straight As in all the subjects. Her goal was to get good grades in the exam, get into business school, be an accountant with a stable income, such that we could afford to buy a house and build a family. But we had different dreams. I was the worst-performing students in terms of the academy. She was realistic while I was an idealist.
At that time, I was talking to a professor in one of the university orientations. He was a professor of philosophy, and I read a lot of his books. I was fascinated by his lecture about the meaning of life. As you know, I was a teenager with puberty trying to figure out what I was going to do with my life. And I studied Chinese philosophy, it talked about the difference between human and animals. We, as a human, differentiated ourself, because we have sympathy, we care about justice, and we love other people more than ourselves. These ideas were inspiring and deeply influence my decisions.
This was the moment that I realised it was worth it to take the risk to be the president of the student union. Despite all the obstacles, all the time constraints and all the frustrations along the way, I was elected and served my students, which was one of the most memorable periods of my life.
Eventually, I also passed my public examinations, with 1 A, 1 B and 1C grades in three subjects, which was decent enough to get into the university with my priority subject. And the lesson I learned as the president of the students union was even more important than the public examination results.
This was because I found the meaning of life: 1. I enriched my youth life by learning to be a leader. The unique learning experience by itself was meaningful enough that without any necessity of further explanation .2. I experienced a relationship with my girlfriend with all the ups and downs. This relationship by itself gave me a sense of meaning in my life at that time. 3. I contributed to the community and society by serving the student union. It was meaningful to sacrifice my time as it was payoff by the satisfaction of the student that I served and I witness their face of satisfaction as well.
In conclusion, the learning, the relationship and the contribution were my meaning of life. And I was able to discover it only because I care so much about this question and trying to find the best answer. You would need to find out your meaning of life by yourself, but the pre-requisite is that you need to understand the importance to care about the meaning of life.
Originally published at https://victorleungtw.com.