The Meaning of Life – Wynton Marsalis

atkins-bookshelf-quotations“On one level, life is the process of seeking out and enjoying experiences — from the transcendent to the tragic. Life has as cyclical pattern of movement and appreciation; even when you’re not doing anything, you’re probably in a situation you sought.

On another level, life is the experience of the self’s interaction with the world. The self can be broken down into three main elements and their corresponding activities: first, the heart (knowing compassion, receiving and giving love); second, the intellect (acquiring and digesting information); third, the senses (acting and being acted upon). It is the soul, however, that focuses and inspires all three. The soul gives us resilience — an essential quality since we constantly have to rebound from hardship. It also enables human beings to develop because it is the medium through which we empathize. All the big pushes in humanity against destructive and exploitative forces have been caused by the soul reacting to these powers…

The meaning of life can’t be understood without first looking at the self and its interaction with the world. In effect, this amounts to examining the inner workings of the soul of the universe.

Wynton Marsalis, world-renown jazz and classical trumpeter, composer, music educator, and winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Music,  as quoted in More Reflections on the Meaning of Life edited by David Friend, Little Brown (1992)

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