"Oh, I never knew I could burn with such brightness, that I could fill a room with such warmth. I love these old ones with all my heart." The fir tree and all the knots in its wood - and in its heart - burst with joy in the flame.
Night after night, the fir tree surrendered himself to this rendering. He was so completely glad to be useful and to be alive in this way, that he burned and burned until there was no more left of him, except for the ashes that lay in the bottom of the grate.
And as he was being brushed out of the grate by the old people, he thought he had never imagined more glory than his life had been till now, and that he could never again wish for more than had been his life up to this very moment.
I am very aware that in both cases (cows and trees) that we are looking at the worth of their life from the perspective of their worth to us humans, but still, wouldn't it be such great comfort to have a clear understanding of some single purpose of our lives? My deep meaning is to raise good kids and contribute to our human and full world, but that's still pretty self-serving and/or awfully vague and general.
How about, I am flower. I am here to create beauty for a short time, to gather the sun's warmth and earth's richness to nourish bumblebees and butterflies, then to send forth my seeds for the next generation of beauty and nourishment. Then return into the soil. Hmmm, maybe we're not so different from flowers (and cows, and fir trees) after all.