The Meaning of Life

Epiphanies usually come at the oddest times. Strange moments birth ideas that blossom into either absolutely nothing… or a golden opportunity. They often materialize when performing a mundane task or in that twilight between sleep and almost awake when we don’t yet have the cognitive ability to scribble them down.

“That idea was so great I’ll remember it,” we think before we doze back to sleep.

When morning actually comes, all we remember is that we had an idea and it was a great one. But the actual content is long gone.

I had one this weekend, though – and I was awake. I knew it was the mother of all epiphanies the minute it popped into my brain. It is:

The meaning of life

I kid you not! It’s time to buy the robes, find my mountaintop, and plop down. I figured it out – the big idea! And it is simpler than any philosopher ever tried to reason.

It started thusly.

My children love having pets. We have two dogs, three cats, and they have always begged for more. My issue with the pets we have and the pets they want is that I seem to be the only one qualified to clean up the poo. With three cats, this is a daily requirement. I think my kids are recreational pet lovers; they like the fun stuff, but not the dirty obligations that are a companion to pet ownership.

I have lived my life on the premise that there is nothing I can get on my skin that I can’t wash off. When I relayed that to my daughter, she just said, “Ewwwww!!”

So I clean the litterbox daily and every Saturday I pick up three to five pounds of poop in the yard. I don’t love it, but I like having pets and understand the responsibilities involved. It hit me Saturday while I had the scooper in hand, that this is it.

The meaning of life is cleaning up crap. Wiping the backside. Picking up piles. Scooping the poopy.

You laugh, but(t) think about life in stages.

  1. Someone else selflessly wipes your backside.
  2. Through the joy of education and experiment, you learn to wipe your own.
  3. With experience, you get better at it and refine the skill until it is automatic.
  4. If you’re lucky enough, something comes into your life (animal or tiny human) that you deem worthy of wiping or cleaning up their crap. And you do.
  5. You are no longer able to reach your backside and must depend on another. If you’ve loved well, someone is willing. If not, you’d better have cash.


It’s the circle of poop. And it moves us all.


Think of the parallel to life as we know it. We move from a selfish human who needs someone else to a self-sufficient master of our domain to eventually selflessly doing something dirty and disgusting for others. This is a tangible metaphor for what a life well-lived becomes: from selfish to selfless – served to servant.


There are some tiny humans whose diapers I changed many years ago, much to my chagrin. I admit that I did not wipe nearly as many shiny hinys as my wife and I was rarely gleeful about it. But I did it. And while they moved to stage 3, I cleaned up after all of their beloved pets. And hopefully… hopefully… when I revert to stage five, those children will realize that the circle of poop must continue. Because I’ve got some surprises in store for them.