The Purpose of Life is Discovery

Recently, I hiked a trail in the lightly forested hills above a lake in central Washington State. My eyes danced between the astonishingly beautiful views in the distance and the sight of my hiking boots pounding the worn and dusty trail at my feet. Back and forth, my attention alternated between man-made elegance (my boots) and God-made elegance (the great outdoors). Which was the greater discovery? I asked myself, not looking for an answer. However, the question stayed with me as I trekked up the mountainside and my thoughts ran as deep as the lowermost depths of the lake far below. The ready answer was that God’s work is supreme. However, something inside me challenged that easy assumption.

I began thinking about the discoveries that led to the design of the modern boot. Consider the variety of synthetic materials that are in hiking boots these days. One that jumped into my mind was Gore-Tex, the popular waterproof, breathable fabric that was inside the boot I was wearing. Consider the machinery that was used to make the materials and assemble the shoes. Even the discovery of electricity played a fundamental role.  Computers drive the machines that assemble boots and so much else these days and they are linked inexorably to discoveries in the realm of quantum physics. In fact, it became hard to think of human-level discoveries that didn’t have some kind of impact, however slight, on the boots I was wearing as I made my way from forests of pine trees into the savanna-like grassland slopes that presented me with the best views.

Somewhere along my journey that morning, the idea hit me – and hit me hard – the purpose of life is discovery. Mankind’s discoveries are known and are relatively understood. However, there’s a purpose in life at more fundamental levels too. What about the other animals and even single-celled plant life? It’s all here to form a chain of discovery. Single-celled life discovered locomotion. The cells learned how to link with other cells, eventually forming complex organisms including us. From there, discoveries by women and men have pushed us further and further along the chain. While plant and animal life continue to make their own discoveries, their collective progress is measured in millions of years. Mankind, on the other hand, discovers in great leaps that occur essentially overnight. The pace of discovery is moving at light speed.

I believe that the next truly great discoveries will be linked to the expansion of consciousness in people. These discoveries are impossible to predict today but they will happen. They will lead to a new technological revolution we can’t begin to imagine today, just as it would have been impossible to contemplate the digital age two hundred years ago. Our point of view simply isn’t high enough at this point of our development. However, the view, like the view of the lake far below me as I stride from the grasslands and vanish back into the pine forests, can be enjoyed now, even if we don’t understand it’s deeper meaning. Yet. Below its surface lies a new universe of discovery for health and wholeness for all realms of life. The future is going to be fabulous. All is well. Life is good. And we are truly blessed!