A Blessing for the Meaning-Maker

Paul Dunion

You, you maker of meaning, you have dared to honor your task by participating in creation. The gods look kindly upon your devotion to deeply touch your experience with curiosity and wonder. Such faithfulness intimately bonds you with life. You continue to withstand the seduction inherent in the pursuit of happiness. The longing to be happy finds its satisfaction in the realization of some intention or wish. One becomes obsessed in viewing life as a benefactor delivering ease and comfort. The business of making happy sees life as only unfortunate when the good times aren’t rolling. However, the happy road is never paved with purpose, depth and soul.
We can ask, what am I doing when I’m making meaning? You are naming your experience, similar to what you do when you name a child. And as with a child, when you name your experience, you bring designation, selection and mutual belonging to you and the child. You belong to the child and the child belongs to you regardless of how much loss, sorrow, joy, or how many trials bring disruption to your path. This belonging is not about ownership but rather about a place for renewal, love and growth to take place.
Our youngest child was named Kristin at birth. After several months of observing her, holding her and remaining curious about this new addition to our family, her mother and I decided that her name did not fit. Kirstin represented something deeply gentile, receptive, cuddly and soft. We wanted to honor the uniqueness of the soul we experienced. This act of honoring is a meaning maker as it reflects the how we were coming to know this child, her independence, her large spirit, her vigor and determination. So, we marched to the town hall and changed her name to Jenny, and a Jenny she is.
The gods look kindly upon your devotion to naming your experience with curiosity and wonder. This is especially true when the situation is not highly favorable, such as loss, betrayal or defeat. Depth can be born during these times by allowing your curiosity to continue to name what you are living. For example you can ask: What is this defeat asking of me? Can I see how I have participated in this defeat? How does this defeat emotionally impact me? Who might be helpful regarding offering support for more understanding and direction as I explore this defeat? Can I allow myself to be shamelessly defeated? The key is to allow your soul to move with both the continuity and changes of life.
Once you are called to make meaning, it is likely that you will not wander too far from the path. However, the danger that lurks is sliding into excessive meaning making. There are several ways to get lost in too much meaning. The first is to fall prey to toxic meaning making when you feel overwhelmed by life. Toxic meaning making is energizes by cynicism and bad faith, and is a compensation for feeling helpless.
This calls you to the spiritual task of bringing more honesty, depth and compassion to your experience. You do this by naming yourself as “the one feeling helpless and susceptible to toxic meaning-making”. The next step is to access the right help and support, which can guide you toward more acceptance of feeling powerless. The key is to allow yourself to compassionately feel helpless and take the action of acquiring assistance. You can get back to a manageable amount of meaning-making as you remain an apprentice to accepting feeling helpless as it presents itself.
The second call to excessive meaning-making happens when you refuse to live life on life’s terms. Such a refusal goes beyond some temporary overwhelming situation. It is a general way of positioning yourself in relationship to life, whereby a prohibition is issued regarding feeling lost, scared, out of control, confused, vulnerable, hopeless, anxious and hurt. This abundance of meaning generates a concophany of ideas, thoughts and beliefs aimed at creating an illusion of power. You create the misconception that your meanings are ultimately in control of your life and not the endless outpouring of life’s influences. A cry goes out ,”Life, you can’t tell me who I am!” You simply become more anxious and depressed as life continues its onslaught of pressures pertaining to gender, class, intelligence, success, and even redemption and what it means to be lovable.
You can begin to interrupt the excess of meaning by getting honest about how difficult it is to honor your uniqueness while maintaining some attachment to convention and all the ways it wants to define you. Honor your anger as way to give back to family and society the beliefs, values and what is deemed appropriate action. Find your sisters and brothers, those also committed to choosing themselves and take sanctuary in their company.
The third incentive to indulge in excessive meaning-making is driven by a need to avoid making a mistake. Inordinate meaning-making can be seen as simply being risk avoidant. However, a larger consideration is the unkind ways you are prone to treat yourself when some action yields unfavorable consequences. In order to right-size your meaning, you will need to learn to be kind to yourself irrespective of what is produced by your choices. Such kindness welcomes you to the human condition, where mistakes are viewed as expressions of what it means to be human.
Live the questions of right-sizing your meaning-making. What risk is asking for my attention? What courage is asking for me? To what act of service am I being called? What truth do I need to speak? What action would deepen my experience of belonging? To whom do I need to listen? What am I being asked to let go of? What devotion awaits my commitment? When in doubt, choose some genuine and compassionate action in order to mitigate untethered meaning-making.
Lastly, note that excessive meaning-making tends to lose heart. Heartful meanings move much slower than the mind. They carry a fullness compromised of how much you have been touched and moved, losses and defeats endured, as well as how you have loved and been loved. Unhurried meaning-making will be circumscribed and nuanced with a trustworthy measure of compassion.

Author's Bio: 

38 years in Private Practice and the author of five books