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What is the Meaning of Life

What is the Meaning of Life


 by: Robert Fulghum

 


A Greek philosopher and teacher ended a lecture asking, “Are there any questions?” In the audience was Robert Fulghum who asked, “Dr. Papaderos, what is the meaning of life?”

Fulghum relates: “The usual laughter followed, and people started to go. Papaderos held up his hand and stilled the room and looked at me for a long time, asking with his eyes if I was serious and seeing from my eyes that I was. ‘I will answer your question,’ he said. Then taking his wallet out of his hip pocket, he fished into it and brought out a very small, round mirror, about the size of a quarter. Then he said, ‘When I was a small child, during the war, we were very poor and we lived in a remote village. One day, on the road, I found several broken pieces of a mirror from a wrecked German motorcycle. I tried to find all the pieces and put them together, but it was not possible, so I kept only the largest piece. This one. And by scratching it on a stone, I made it round. I began to play with it as a toy and became fascinated by the fact that I could reflect light into dark places where the sun would not shine – in deep holes and crevices and dark closets. It became a game for me to get light into the most inaccessible places I could find.

'I kept the little mirror, and as I went about my growing up, I would take it out in idle moments and continue the challenge of the game. As I became a man, I grew to understand that this was not just a child’s game but a metaphor for what I might do with my life. I came to understand that I am not the light or the source of the light. But light – truth, understanding, knowledge – is there, and it will only shine in many dark places if I reflect it.'

‘I am a fragment of a mirror whose whole design and shape I do not know. Nevertheless, with what I have, I can reflect light into the dark places of this world – into the black places in the hearts of men – and change some things in some people. Perhaps others may see and do likewise. This is what I am about. This is the meaning of my life.' “And then he took his small mirror and, holding it carefully, caught the bright rays of daylight streaming through the window and reflected them onto my face and onto my hands folded on the desk.”


www.robertfulghum.com Robert Fulghum's Official Website

Copyright 1991. All rights reserved.

 

About The Author

Robert Fulghum is the author of All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten: It Was on Fire When I Lay Down on it; Uh-Oh; True Love; and Words I Wish I Wrote. The books are available through his web site: www.robertfulghum.com, and on all online bookstores.

Robert Fulghum was born in 1937, and grew up in Waco, Texas. In his youth he worked as a ditch-digger, newspaper carrier, ranch hand, and singing cowboy. After college and a short career with IBM, he returned to graduate school to complete a degree in theology. For 22 years he served as a parish minister of Unitarian churches in the Pacific Northwest. During this same period he taught drawing, painting, and philosophy at the Lakeside School in Seattle. Fulghum is an accomplished painter and sculptor. He sings, and plays the guitar and mando-cello. He was a founding member of the authors’ collective rock-and-roll band, the Rock-Bottom Remainders. Robert Fulghum has four children and seven grandchildren. He lives in Seattle, Washington, and on the Greek island of Crete

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