The Meaning of Life

What’s it all About

I was having one of those days. Before I could get one thing accomplished, two new problems popped up – or so it seemed. One thing about it, as a principal I found that the days passed incredibly fast.

I forget what issue I was dealing with, but I decided to return to the office via the elementary wing of the school. It was recess time for the K – 5’s and they would all be outside on the playgrounds. I was counting on my walk as being a quiet one.

As I passed the grade 2 area I saw Keith standing in the doorway of his classroom. He was eating a sandwich and waved to me as I approached. I asked him why he wasn’t outside, and he explained that he had been getting some extra help that ran overtime. His teacher suggested he simply continue with his work rather than venture out. He was good with that. He then invited me to come in and see the work he had been doing.

Keith took his seat behind his desk and I sat down beside him. He proudly showed me his work. I told him I was impressed. I watched as he continued working. I was enjoying the quiet of the moment. I then started to think about the problems I was trying to fix.

I then let out a sigh and said, “Keith, what is it all about?”

He took another bite of his sandwich, looked at me and said, “Hmmm?” He then turned his attention back to his work.

“What’s it all about, man? What is life all about? What are we doing on this planet? We make our way through each day, doing this and doing that. Does it make any difference? What is it all about, Keith?”

Without taking his eyes off of his work, and with a partial sandwich in one hand and a pencil in the other, he said, “Sliding.”


He nodded, “Sliding.”

I sat back and considered his message. I tried to comprehend the wisdom that was being delivered to me. Was it possible that I had just been giving the meaning of life through a young oracle? I continued to ponder the message. I thanked him for his time and left him to finish his work. I returned to the office.

As the day progressed I continued to think about Keith and his answer. The more I reflected on his wisdom, the more it made sense. Suddenly it occurred to me, That is the meaning of life – sliding; that is what it is all about.

A light had gone on. Everything seemed so much clearer. Think about it, life is all about sliding. When we are born we are standing at the top of a snow covered hill. The path before us appears pure and unblemished, but there are many obstacles in the way. Some are visible (trees) and others are seem to jump out of nowhere (rocks beneath the surface). These are metaphors for the challenges of life. Some of us make it all the way down to the bottom of the hill and continue for great distances. Sadly, many do not get off the hill or the journey ends part way down. We are all visible to one another, but we choose whether or not to communicate. We have the ability to warn those who follow of the rocks beneath the surface; sadly, many do not say a word. Some are fortunate to have fast, expensive toboggans, while others simply have sheets of cardboard. We choose whether or not we share our toboggans.

At the end of the day I found Keith’s teacher. I gave an account of my conversation with Keith. I shared with her his profound wisdom.

She replied, “Well that’s cute but what you don’t know is that this morning I told the class that I would be arranging for them to go out sliding. Keith was probably just thinking about that.”

“Really? You don’t think he is a living portal to deep and profound wisdom?”

“No. He was probably just looking forward to going sliding.”

I felt deflated. I supposed her explanation made sense. Perhaps Keith was just a little boy thinking little boy thoughts.

But I do know this, . . . . . as I slide down this hill we call life, I am able to travel further due to the path my parents, teachers, relatives, etc. plowed before me. My job is to make that pathway better for those who follow me. I have an obligation to warn others of obstacles and help them navigate through their journey just as I hope they would do for me. I need to share my toboggan with others and not be upset if newcomers want to slide on my hill.

Thanks Keith, I get it.

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