This one met a wonderful girl in high school. It was one of those chance meetings, where two people are thrown together in a situation and a deep connection is made in the short time you have together. That one perfect weekend on the mountain was all it took to melt his heart. He called her the very next day, and that weekend they had their first date. For a few months, they dated and he was happier than he had ever been in his life. Then, before he knew what was going on, it was over. He never got an explanation from her.

During that time, he had made her his purpose, his meaning for being. He thought of her when he first woke up in the morning and when he fell asleep at night. Whenever he saw something beautiful, he thought of how much she would enjoy it. Everything he did was done for her. He used to have hobbies, but he had let those slide to be with her. He used to have friends, but he had drifted away from them to be with her. Now she was gone, and he had nothing. Yet he continued to live.

This one had devoted his life to God. He believed that whatever he did, a loving God was watching over him, observing his triumphs and forgiving his weaknesses. Then he went to a Catholic high school, though he was not Catholic, and he did not like what he saw. The more he explored religion, the more he found it filled with intolerance and blind faith in the word of the church. He had more questions about life than religion could answer, and he found himself seperated from God, never making the distinction between God and religion.

Now, he didn't know what his meaning was. He didn't know why he got up in the morning, why he smiled, why he enjoyed life. He thought maybe he was just a chemical reaction that started by accident billions of years ago, and there was no point in his existence. He woke up depressed, and found that no matter what he did, he couldn't find any point in doing it. Yet he continued to live.

This one suffered from an anxiety disorder. For years, he went through life in a tug of war between depression and anxiety, hopelessness and fear, sorrow and boredom. He often went to the doctor with symptoms of one disease or another, convinced he was dying of something. He sometimes went to the emergency room, so panicked that he was sure he was having a heart attack. Some days he just lay curled up on his bed, unable to find pleasure in any of the activities he enjoyed. Yet he continued to live.

This one lost his grandmother. She was 96 and had been in a nursing home for months after having a stroke. It was no surprise, but he found he was not at all prepared for it. When she died, he could not stop crying at the funeral. When his mother and father, divorced for a year, hugged at the funeral in a rare moment of contact between them, he lost control and cried in the back of the car.

He felt guilt. For years he had been so hung up on school and work and his social life that he had not visited often. She lived two hours away, but that was no excuse for the infrequent visits, especially once she had gotten ill. He remembered his last visit, a few months earlier at the nursing home. He had only stayed for 5 minutes. He felt like he had wasted his moments to spend time with the people he loved. He felt like he had screwed up and gotten so invovled in his own life that he forgot about others. Yet he continued to live.

This one's sister was schizophrenic. For as long as he could remember, she had not been normal. Through his middle school, high school, and college years, she had been hospitalized and medicated many times. He had fought a knife away from her when she tried to commit suicide. He had seen her throw plates at his mother screaming how she didn't love her. He had seen his father kick her door down out of frustration. When she ran away from home and called to say that no one loved her and her own brother didn't even notice her packing, he broke down in tears.

Gradually, he became afraid of her. He didn't know how to talk to her, what to do or how to act. When she was in the hospital, he did not visit her out of fear. Fear of this person who was not the sister he knew, fear of the mental hospital and what it meant, fear of what might be wrong with his own brain. He felt bad about this, but did not know what to do. He felt helpless, frustrated and scared. Yet he continued to live.

This one found his meaning. He knew that somewhere inside him was happiness and peace. He came to the understanding that most of his unhappiness and anxiety were caused by constant memories of the past and fears of the future. He realized the life he was missing, the beauty all around him, because he was hung up on the past and the future. He realized that the past and future were illusions, that all he had was now and all he would ever have is now. He knew that all he could do was accept that which was out of his control and work to change that which he could. He knew that life was not about pain and suffering, it was about being true to yourself and living each moment fully and to the best of his ability.

This was not easy to know, and sometimes he forgot. But he accepted the low times because it was all he could do. Sometimes he worried about the past or remembered what had made him happy before, but he observed this from a distance without letting it define him. Sometimes he thought to the future, to where life would take him and what would finally fulfill him, but he saw this and did not let the future become his meaning. He lived, and for perhaps the first time in his life, that was enough.

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