where the writers are

This morning I received an email from a friend who is working on a book that describes a literal journey he took as a means to tell the story of the metaphorical journey that he experienced.

One of the key moments of his book is when he asked a Russian man he met while walking down the street what he believed the meaning of life is. The man replied, "It is not the number of days you live, but the number you remember."

In the email this morning, my friend asked how I define redemption within the context of life and the perpetual human desire to find meaning. Below is what I wrote back:

"When I think of redemption, especially in the context of this book, it is a pretty sweeping definition. In one aspect I think of it as the person who erred in their lives finding the strength of character to change themselves and thereby change their lives. In the context of the book, this is the person who finds that they are sleeping through their own lives, not living up to their potential, and maybe letting people important to them down as a result. By finding the strength to change they redeem themselves.

"Then there is this notion that life is a continual process of seeking redemption. I think this is maybe a metaphorical take on Catholics’ concept of original sin, but as a Quaker we are also always in a process of seeking higher ideals, improving our lives through service to others, social justice, personal growth and happiness, and so on. These are values that are consistently shared by all people and if you get into Jung they are values that can be seen as archetypes and pieces of the collective unconscious that bind all people together.

"I think it is the natural human condition to be pushed, or to have the desire to seek redemption through action (positive, morally just, personally sustaining and growing, etc.), but it is culture and other forces that push against that natural urge or create misguided notions of what it means to live a full life.

"Therefore, the desire to remember each day, is all about the act of seeking redemption, seeking a higher purpose, our ideal selves, but all within the larger context of culture and society and family."