Kobe Bryant and the Meaning of Life

“Whoever dies with the most toys wins” 

I saw those words on a trailer being pulled by a rather large truck a few summers back. Since I was near the Silver Lake Sand Dunes I imagine the trailer was full of dirt bikes and quads. I laughed when I saw it, it’s a funny little quote. 

More than it being funny it takes a stab at answering our biggest questions. 

Why are we here? 

What is the purpose of life? 

What happens when we die? 

That little quote on a trailer in Silver Lake, Michigan answered all those questions. 

Get stuff. Get the most stuff. Die. You win. 

Simple.  

Profound. 

Elegant. 

Definitely false. 

I wish it was that easy. I wish life could simply be fulfilled through a game of acquiring stuff. Actually, as I typed that I felt glad life isn’t that simple. 

That’s quite a conundrum. 

We crave simplicity and straightforward answers, yet answers of that nature don’t satisfy. 

Example: 

Remember the movie Parent Trap? 

The newer one when Lindsay Lohan was a kid that wasn’t on drugs. 

The movie is about identical twins that were separated at birth by divorced parents, and  then many years later accidentally got sent to the same summer camp. At summer camp these two girls figure out they are twins and decide to trick their parents and switch places when they go back. Thus getting to meet the other side of their family. 

It’s a cute movie. I liked it a lot when I was younger. I tried to figure out how they could have found two actors that looked that alike. I assumed they were actually twins that were both in acting. Or perhaps really good make up artists. I imagined all the fun they had filming the movie with these two identical people. 

Turns out I was very wrong. 

Both girls were Lindsay Lohan. 

No identical twins. No make-up. No wondering. 

Straightforward. Logical. Simple. Boring. 

Answers tend to be that way. 

So back to our truck and trailer. 

The most thought provoking trailer of all time. 

“Whoever dies with the most toys wins” 

This trailer takes a shot at answering the question, “how do you win at life?” 

Good question trailer, but a bad answer. 

I’m gonna make a big claim.  

I’m going to give you the answer to the question. 

“How do you win at life?” 

Or perhaps better stated like,

“What is the meaning of life?” 

Obviously this isn’t gonna be straightforward or simple. But I believe the answer will satisfy. 

Do you like making stuff? 

Anything. Literally anything. 

Making food 

Or chairs. 

Or cars. 

Or books. 

Or movies. 

Or video game characters. 

Or stories. 

Or houses. 

Or Lego replicas of Star Wars ships. 

The options are endless.  We can make anything. The reward for making something is typically pretty satisfying. 

This winter I was working on remodeling a basement. Completely redoing everything. New walls, new floors, everything. 

Now, I don’t love hanging drywall. 

I don’t love sanding down dry wall. 

I don’t love painting walls. 

BUT 

I did love seeing that finished basement. 

You feel me? 

We love to create. Even if it’s something that we don’t love doing, (drywall for example) we gain an enormous amount of joy and love when we create something.

What if we created something we love to create? 

We know when we see someone doing that. 

Creating something they love to create. 

That lady that gets up at 4 am to start baking. 

That group of kids in the garage with a drum kit and a guitar. 

That author that makes you read everything they write, because you know it will be worth it. 

To create something we love to create is a beautiful thing. The most beautiful thing. 

Kobe Bryant. 

Most people know that name. 

Maybe just because you yell “Kobe” when you throw some trash and it makes it in the can. 

Maybe because you love basketball. 

Here’s my second big claim. 

Kobe Bryant taught me the meaning of life. 

For those of you who aren’t into sports don’t worry, you don’t have to be to get the point. 

All you need to know about Kobe is this, best player of a generation (maybe ever), he played for one team for twenty seasons, he is a 5 time world champion. 

Kobe just retired. This was his last season. 

Earlier in the year he wrote a letter announcing that this season would be his last. He entitled this letter, “Dear Basketball”. Since reading that letter months ago I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it, or him. I didn’t know why at first. But now I do. That letter told me the meaning of life. 

Here’s a part of it. 

*The “you” he references is directed at basketball itself.*

“As a six-year-old boy
Deeply in love with you
I never saw the end of the tunnel.
I only saw myself
Running out of one. 

And so I ran.
I ran up and down every court
After every loose ball for you.
You asked for my hustle
I gave you my heart
Because it came with so much more.

I played through the sweat and hurt
Not because challenge called me
But because YOU called me.
I did everything for YOU
Because that’s what you do
When someone makes you feel as
Alive as you’ve made me” 

Beautiful isn’t it? 

“I did everything for you because that’s what you do when someone makes you feel as alive as you’ve made me” 

Kobe loved to create basketball. 

Kobe’s creation of basketball was a love letter. 

A love letter to the sport, 

A love letter to the world, 

A love letter to God. 

And that’s the meaning of life 

Write a love letter.

To the world. 

To God. 

Create something that you love to create. 

In participating in creation we will experience God in a way we never have before. 

The world needs you to take its pieces and create something with them. The world wants you to participate in the continuation of creation. 

The world wants your love letters. 

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