Hard Lessons

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'm not sure that I can properly express how much this project has changed my interactions with strangers. I'm used to skipping small talk now, moving directly to these big and deep conversations with people whom I've only just met. The questions are deceptively simple: "What advice would you give to a baby? What advice would you give reflecting on things you would change? What do you think the meaning of life is?" Sometimes the words that follow lay bare deep scars and the strength that helped them heal.

Recently, I read an entry in one of Legacy.com's obituary Guest Books that captures this notion well, quoting Jenkins Lloyd Jones:

Anyone who imagines that bliss is normal is going to waste a lot of time running around shouting that he has been robbed. The fact is that most putts don't drop, most beef is tough, most children grow up to be just like people, most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration, and most jobs are more often dull than otherwise. Life is just like an old-time rail journey ... delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed. The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride.

What follows is my fourth month of interviews covering advice on living and the meaning of life. The answers given this month were darker and rawer, with parental love more treasured. I am deeply indebted to each of the people who trusted me with the gifts of their wisdom.

The Meaning of Life Project: Hard Lessons

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.