Sometimes people ask “What is the purpose of life?” or “Does life have a purpose?” These are confusing ways of asking the question, because they suggest an inquiry into a cosmic purpose at which we can only guess. Asked like that, these questions are unrelated to anything that is going on in our lives.
A better is “What purpose have I served in my life,” in other words, “What good have I done” or “What have I accomplished.” This does not necessarily refer to the time we won a trophy in high school; achievement here means a meaningful achievement, something that gives a sense of meaning and purpose to life.
By bringing the question back to achievement, we tie in our relationships, engagement and meaning, and then reach out spiritually with a sense of purpose. This is not a description of cosmic forces, merely a description of how human beings thrive and flourish.
From the side of unattained goals, and disappointment:
- Natalie Hodges, Uncommon Measure: A Journey Through Music, Performance, and the Science of Time (Bellevue Literary Press, 2022): “A Violinist Rethinks Her Devotion to Music, With Emotion and Erudition”
Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937), about a Southern black woman in the 1930s who journeys “from free-spirited girl to a woman of independence”. Other works by this author:
- Zora Neale Hurston, Novels & Stories (Library of America, 1995).
- Zora Neale Hurston, The Complete Stories (Amereon, Ltd., 1999).
Music: Composers, artists, and major works
Beethoven, Symphony No. 8 in F Major, Op. 93 (1812): as regards today’s subject, the music speaks for itself, exuberant and joyful throughout – the essence of a successful personal life. “The Eighth Symphony generally has been regarded as the slightest of Beethoven’s mature symphonies because of its short length, lighter tone, and frequent return to the musical styles and forms of the eighteenth century. However, beneath the gaiety of its surface lies much complexity and a promethean connection.” One musicologist writes, “'what it expresses is the unique sense of power which fires a man when he finds himself fired for a delicate task just as he has triumphed in a colossal one.'” Great performances were conducted by Hans Pfitzner in 1933, Herbert Blomstedt in 1976, Leonard Bernstein, live, in the 1980s, Roger Norrington in 1987, Nikolaus Harnoncourt in 1991, Colin Davis in 1993, John Eliot Gardiner in 2005, Riccardo Chailly in 2010, Christian Thielemann in 2012, and Jordi Savall in 2021.
- First movement (Allegro vivace e con brio): full-throttle exuberance
- Second movement (Allegretto scherzando): playful
- Third movement (tempo di Minuetto): taking stock of the riches – not the money or the goods but the personal treasures
- Fourth movement (Allegro vivace): full throttle to the end!
- Beethoven, Piano Sonata No. 4 in E-flat major, 7, “Grand” (1797): exhibiting “strong, triumphant demonstration of masterful musical architecture.”
- Glazunov, Poeme Epique (Epic Poem), Op. Posth.
- Ben-Haim, Piano Quartet in C Major, Op. 4 (1921)
- Atterberg, Symphony No. 2 in F Major, Op. 6 (1913)
- Atterberg, Symphony No. 3 in D major, "Västkustbilder" (West Coast Pictures), Op. 10 (1916)
- Atterberg, Symphony No. 8, Op. 48 (1945)
- Sergei Bortkiewicz, symphonies: Symphony No. 1 in D Major, "From My Homeland", Op. 52 (1945); Symphony No. 2 in E-flat Major, 55 (1947)
- Raga Haripriya is a contemporary ragam composed by the iconic Indian flautist Hariprasad Chaurasia.
- Raga Malgunji is a Hindustani classical raag for late morning(performances by Banerjee and Banerjee).
Albums and artists:
- Nat King Cole was a great artist early in his career. His surviving family has cooperated on the compilation and release of a 7-CD collection of his early performances.
- Steven Halpern, “Higher Ground” album (1990) (51')
From the dark side:
- Edgar Lee Masters, “Washington McNeely”
- Wallace Stevens, “Disillusionment of Ten O’Clock”
Music: songs and other short pieces
- Nawang Khechog, The Wish-Fulfilling Jewel in the Himalayas