What is the point of us living?

Keira and I were returning from a fun day out late yesterday afternoon. Bowling had been followed by air hockey, then lunch, then the best seats in the house to see Mr Popper’s Penguins. We were choosing penguin names for each other. Keira decided she would be Captain, I would be Stinky, and I thought Nimrod suited Carole well. Then out of the blue Keira asked “What is the point of us living?” “That’s an interesting question. Why did you ask it and what do you think the answer is?” I replied. “Oh, I don’t know…” said Keira, and the conversation moved on. Quite a question eh?

On arriving home we posed the question on Twitter. Here’s how the dialogue unfolded:

@intheseheels: “to keep the earth turning. Everything on the planet has a role to play. Even the smallest things. Keira’s is obviously to be cute & ask hard questions”

@stirthesource replied: “wow! BIG question – I’d be curious to know what K thinks if she was asked. not deflection, just love the thoughts our kids have”. Then a short while later came: “after deflection, comes reflection. My take ~ to love, learn, experience & shift certain things consciously & unconsciously”

@wedge suggested: “To discover and create our own point to life”.

@phynbarr reflected that: “we’ve all asked that at some point or another” and @changecontinuum had the temerity to suggest: “isn’t that your job Mr Shaw? If you get stuck I suppose @chapmanbear might know…” We did ask Chapman Bear but his answer was something about poo, we think he misunderstood the question.

@allinsona offered some reassurance: “both ours asked this when 11 ish. Tried meaningful replies, love, zest and laughter etc. Best answer is the long game though.” before kindly going on to add: “and I suspect you are not so bad at that, and by the long game I mean, the by example approach :)”

News of last night’s utter vandalism on the streets of London was beginning to seep through and so for Twitter, this conversation closed. I think we gained useful insight from it. Just before bedtime I asked Keira her question again, this time she replied “to have fun”. “Is that all?” I asked, “yes, that is all” came the response. I thought back to our earlier air hockey game in which Keira trounced me 7 goals to 2. And I remember Keira’s happy looking face and all the laughter we shared.

Having fun, that’s what it’s all about alright.


Author: Doug Shaw

Artist and Consultant. Embracing uncertainty, sketching myself into existence. Helping people do things differently, through an artistic lens.

11 thoughts on “What is the point of us living?”

  1. Aren’t kids great? They see straight through a problem and answer it simply.

    Thinking about Keira’s answer it’s interesting that “fun” was her choice of word. To me it talks about spontaneity & being “in the moment”. Which of us adults would have come up with an answer that talks about enjoyment, here & now?

    A salutary lesson & a perfect answer – thanks Keira!

    P.S. That Chapmanbear may just be wiser than you think… check out good old Maslow http://bit.ly/ieWG4p

    1. David – your thoughtful reflections and playful comments are a motivation to me, and doubtless to Keira and Chapman too. I look forward to sharing with them this evening. Cheers!

    1. Hey Rob – I know you believe the maths of happiness I’ve seen it in your face. Thanks so much for popping by feller

  2. Hi doug

    Am helping my ma with some difficult times at the mo. Her 91 year old boyfriend (yes you can still be one in your dotage!) is dying in hospital but every day she visits him they have the most wonderful conversations about their lives. He keeps telling her how much he has made the most of his and enjoyed every minute of it, particularly the last six years with her. His recipe? Living every day the best you can and having as much fun as possible.

    1. Wow – what a story! Hi Sarah and thanks for sharing this. From my experience impending loss sharpens the focus and I’m so pleased your ma’s boyfriend is able to impart such wonderfully supportive and useful insight to us all. Please pass on my very best wishes. You’ve brought tears to my eyes (again!). Always seems to happen when I’m in a customers office – (in this case sitting opposite the group HRD) he he.

  3. I thought hard about whether to post this … Because I didn’t want to bring down the mood. … But for personal reasons I feel it is important to challenge, even if it means being a bit of party pooper.

    There are a lot of people out there, who perhaps for short-term reasons related to current circumstances, or more challengingly because of the ways their brains are wired, can’t consider themselves happy. And certainly don’t think they’re having fun. If the message we plant in people’s minds is that “being happy” or “having fun” at any snapshot point in time is the point of living, there is an extremely dark and obvious flip side to that message.

    I don’t know what that makes the answer. But to try and offer something postive, I’ll have a go:
    To strive for happiness – your own, that of those around you, and of a wider group of others you may or may not know – but knowing that happiness and fun sometimes come and go – but that there will always be people who love and care for you, even if you can’t always immediately see it.
    To do good things.
    To find new experiences, learn from them, and do better things.
    To find, nurture and live a set of values that make you feel good, and some element of the world in which you live a better place.
    To celebrate what you have – much of which should always be the simple intangible things that it is sometimes possible to undervalue, or to allow to become overwhelmed by a fear of the less important things you don’t have, or might lose.

    Some of that may be schmultz. It might not be the same for everyone. But although it doesn’t fit in a headline, I think it gets round some of the dangers I see in overly simplistic answers to the question.

    I see parallels to what I’m saying in Sarah’s comment – particularly the “as best you can” and “as possible” ‘riders’.

    Of course – “be happy” is good advice. And just to reassure readers, I am happy. It’s just that I also know “being happy” is not always achievable – and it is the recognition of that that I see as important.

    Smile if you can. The sun is shining.

    1. Hi Robert – I’m so glad you did post. This is a great story and a lovely reminder that of course happiness is not always achievable and certainly not the only “answer”. We need the flip side of which you speak in order to appreciate the happiness we seek. Your encouragement to find new experiences, nurture and celebrate is wonderful stuff – thanks.

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