Some people feel that children give their life more purpose, more meaning. Hats off to them. Truth is, though, we don't need children to do this for us.
I've never really felt that my life lacked meaning. I have a demanding career, wonderful husband, large group of friends, and lots of hobbies and interests to keep me busy. If one is content with enjoying life, one really needn't look for purpose or meaning in it. However, as everyone knows, adding volunteer work to your life is also a great option if you want to do something meaningful with your time.
Recently I've been seriously considering volunteering for the Samaritans of New York, a suicide prevention hotline. Although my husband and I are in a majorly busy phase of life right now (we're moving, and don't have a lot of extra time), I would really like to make time to begin doing this sometime in the next few months, perhaps in the beginning of 2009.
The job is demanding. The Samaritans make clear that their organization is a professional crisis counseling hotline, and that volunteers need to make a serious commitment: 60+ hours of training, followed by a 6-month commitment to 3 5-hour shifts per month plus one weekday (Sun-Thurs) overnight shift per month. I work a normal Monday-Friday day job with pretty long hours as it is, so that's a lot for me. But I really want to do it because it seems like it would be very rewarding, and I think I would be good at it.
To me, making the time for something like this in my life would have way more meaning than making the time to raise some kid. Raising kids, in my mind, is not giving back to the community. This is. And need I even say that I wouldn't have time to do this if I had a baby to take care of?
Just some musings. If you've ever done something similar, I'd love to hear from you, as well as hear about any other volunteer work you do.