Where Meaning Is Found

Aangi ShahDecember 26, 2023Finding Meaning

“Meaning,” “purpose,” “aim.” These are things that alter from person to person. Some find meaning early, while others spend their whole lives wondering what they lived for. Sometimes meaning is found and lost as our circumstances change, and other times the opposite happens. And, most often, the meaning we seek differs in each individual. As a whole, it is a seemingly vague, scattered idea, incapable of uniting a widely varied mix of people into an entity.

As a part of society, I come in contact with people every day. Given this, there will always be the chance meeting with someone new. I remember an incident when I was seated next to a jolly old lady on a flight. Striking up a conversation, we found many things in common, such as having moved around a lot as kids, and possessing clashing national and ethnic identities. Chatting away, the long flight seemed short, and boredom seeped into delight. For those brief four hours, that was our bond.

Someone I talk with more frequently is my grandmother. She might be sitting at the dining table, chopping vegetables, or in the kitchen, cooking dinner, and I’ll help her in between my work. In those moments, she teaches me how to hold a knife without slicing my palms and add just the right amount of spice to subj. When I’m tired from school, she’ll cut some apples and bring them to me on my desk. In return, when she’s seated to eat dinner, I’ll serve her, so she doesn’t have to overwork her sore legs, and help her turn on the TV when she’s resting on the couch. This is our bond.

A group of people I encounter every day are my friends. Between classes, we complain about homework and long, boring classes, while during lunchtime, humorous happenings paired with inside jokes give rise to fits of laughter. On the flip side, in the face of hardship, I find solace knowing there is a trustworthy safety net beneath me. My friends and I understand and rely on each other. This is our bond.

These people are my family, friends, teachers, seniors, and even kind strangers. They are “my” community, made up of those who surround, support, and relate with me. This system of support is based on nothing more than laughter shared, lessons learned, struggles overcome, and comfort given.

Searching for meaning is not simply the procurement of a product. It is the story of each individual, woven with the strands of experiences, emotions, and relationships; the thread of life which Fate spins for each person. Some threads are completely spun, content, while others dangle in the wind seeking a way, just like the stories in “my” community. Nevertheless, it is these threads which overlap, constructing the tapestry of a community.

I find it misleading to say the search for MEANING brings people together in a community. It is the SEARCH for meaning itself which creates a community of people bound together in the first place. Interestingly enough, it is the interactions in “my” community that give me the will to live, to love, and to laugh.

Perhaps in the SEARCH for meaning, we happen to find MEANING in each other.

Aangi Shah is an eighth grader currently studying at The Riverside School in Ahmedabad, India. Usually, most will find her diving into the pages of history while blasting Taylor Swift. Just sometimes, you might catch her with a pen in hand, weaving her own little fantasy world.