Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life

Red_where do I go

2014-07-29 – Saturday I was a life insurance agent. For a day. Yesterday I ended it. I’m not sure why I wanted to embark on a detour from my chosen path in life, but I gave it a try. And I did pretty good. I think it scared me to find out that I could really do it. If that makes any sense. So I went to the office and quit.

The insurance office was about an hour from my home, but about five miles from the Morton Arboretum. It’s been many years since I visited the Morton Arboretum. It has a nice combination of sculptured gardens and wooded paths. I texted my wife Kit that I had put in my resignation and that I would be taking a walk. I did seven and a half miles. My feet are still tired today.

After about six miles, I was getting tired looking for the shortest path home, when I came upon the sign you see at the top of this post. It had an arrow that pointed to the right. I began following the arrow, but it soon became apparent that I was heading in exactly the wrong direction. So I doubled back.

Along the final trail I saw the birdhouse you see below. It was labeled with the number 42. You should be able to see that at the bottom of the picture. If you’ve read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams, you know that the number 42 is the “Answer to The Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything.”


Pretty spooky, huh?

I got to thinking about how my brief journey in the land of insurance selling was mirrored in my walk through the arboretum. I’d briefly taken the wrong path, realized what I really want to do with the rest of my life and doubled back, having found the meaning of my life.

Then I got to thinking about how we attach narratives to whatever we encounter in life. It was just a fluke that I found birdhouse 42. If I would have found birdhouse 43 (or 41), I’d now be telling your about the Bush that I found in the wilderness.

2 responses to “Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life

  1. Steve–while working at Dearborn (or whatever), I lived a few miles from the Morton Arboretum and walked those same paths many times but unlike you I never found the meaning of life and I have taken every wrong turn imaginable. Less significantly, on those trails I couldn’t even find out what I what to do with the rest of my life. Now I trek along the mountainous trials of Utah amidst mountain lions and sagebrush. Life is mysterious, fundamentally so, and I think to unlock its mysteriousness would be a disaster–there would then be no wrong turns. Try looking a cougar in the eye!
    It sounds to me you are searching, questioning. A second, third, fourth career will come. Many people say “there is no there, there”. Don’t believe them. You’ll get there. Cheers, — Greg

    • Greg– It’s always great to hear from you. Kit and I are slow to get our walking going. We have a book with hikes in the Chicago area, but we’ve been warming up closer to home. I’ve also been riding my bike.

      The thing I’m learning is that I better pursue my own writing.

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