When we read about Shariputra or Avalokiteshvara we are reading about bodhisattvas. These are not ordinary persons like you and I. They are beings who have committed themselves to a life (or lifetimes) of what we would call evolution. By this term I mean conscious and intentional development of one's capacities and facilities so that one can separate appearances from realities and actually be a positive force in the world, for themselves, for other humans and for non-humans -- in fact, the very planet itself.
In this way we might say that they were the first ecological activists.
Today, as I looked at my own life from the (somewhat elderly) perspective of having lived most of it, I asked myself what was the point of it all? Which lead to the question, what should I be doing in the limited time which remains to me? Seeking new adventures, places and experiences is appealing, but off and on I've done that for 68 years now. In the end, that approach has not answered the fundamental questions of why and what? Today I remembered that being on the bodhisattva path is a way of existing with purpose, and not just a way of merely existing. It answers the question of why am I here? Since I don't believe some god placed me here, any answers to my questions which depend on that framework are not going to work for me. But this Buddhist answer does.
While I take the answer to have some metaphysical elements which materialists would reject, in a fundamental sense it is an answer which could work for anyone who seeks answers since in its fundamental elements it is non-metaphysical.
While my death is much on my mind these days, not that I have any prognosis beyond the usual fact of mortality, I find that I am also deeply concerned about the future of our planet. Some scientists are calling our age the age of the anthropocene extinction of life forms. And there is climate change, which is going to disrupt all human societies.
So I ask, what can a traveler on the bodhisattva path bring to the future? -- both as a way of making this life meaningful, and as a way of benefiting the beings of the future who will have to grapple with an existence I can barely comprehend.