Contemplating the Meaning of Life and Living….

By Qin Sun Stubis

(originally published in The Santa Monica Star)

ching bioWhat is life? Is it how we get up every morning and choose what we eat and do? Is it our wishes and dreams that we pursue? Or, are our job and chores taking up most of our conscious hours? This seemingly easy question may elicit many possible answers, some amusing and some, quite philosophical.

To me, life often echoes what we do: To a painter, life may be a picture; To a musician, it could be a flow of notes. As a writer, I often see my life paralleling the process of writing: Beginnings, endings and transitions are the hardest.

In theory, we all follow the same path of life, if lucky, from infancy to childhood to puberty, adulthood, growing old and facing the inevitable. So, it seems that we all should have a pretty similar understanding of what life is about. In reality, our views could not be more different.

Ask a bunch of random adults about what they think their lives are like, I bet you will collect many interesting answers. Some may call it a “box of chocolates,” while others think of it as a “bottle of vinegar,” or a “blank piece of paper.” Life, as it turns out, is quite multi-faced, containing many interesting characteristics, depending on who is talking about it.

While we don’t choose to come into this world, we certainly face a lot of choices as to how to live. Some choices are easy and obvious, others are hard and life-changing. Our perception of life can be much affected by the results of those decisions we make.

Considering all the options we face in the course of a lifetime, it may not be such an exaggeration to say that there are a million ways to live our lives. As we shift from one stage of it to another or make a change, we’re constantly gaining new understanding of our lives. An “awful” today could be replaced by a “beautiful” tomorrow, or vice versa, all pending on how we feel, and what we’re experiencing at the moment.

Despite our varied viewpoints, one thing I do hope we can all agree on: That is, life is short and our time is precious. Make the best of it. When times are hard, don’t forget to rely on some sweet memorable moments to pull yourself through; When life is great, don’t forget to look after those struggling in their sands of time because it could have been us in that dire situation. Remember, life’s rewards come from its challenges, and its sweetest moments often appear as a surprise.

You can always reach me at

A longtime columnist of ours, Qin lives in Bethesda, MD.

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