Common Ground

Since Jan. 1, 2015, I’ve been interviewing one person each day about the meaning of life. Mostly total strangers. The Meaning of Life Project is my way of sharing what I've learned.

I've changed since beginning this project. Hearing people's thoughts on the meaning of life has impacted the way I live my own... I've begun thinking more about both life and death, and I want to spend the gift of each day alive differently than I did before. 

I have interviewed old and young, men and women, and people from vastly different social and economic circumstances. Though I conducted all of the interviews in the United States, roughly a quarter of the people I talked to were originally from another country.

With all of these differences, it's the common threads that astound me. When I ask people what they consider to be the meaning of life, for instance, the most frequent answer is some variation on "to love."

For some people, love isn't necessarily the traditional, relationship-based emotion between people, but rather love of the outdoors and travel, a Thoreau-like wish to be connected to nature and something beyond our understanding in this world. But for most of the people I talk to, love is meant in the context of family. Their answers remind me that the extremely basic need to love and be loved is central to our humanity and purpose.

Below, I've shared selected quotes from this month's interviews. If you're inspired, please share your own thoughts and add to the conversation in the comments.

Kim Evenson is Legacy.com's Chief Marketing Officer. The inspiration for the Meaning of Life Project was born from the company's mission of preserving life stories and sharing important lessons.