Monday, August 18, 2008

The Meaning of Life

I never seem to think of ‘The Meaning of Life’ unless I watch Monty Python.
No, I don’t think the meaning of life is to give birth to fifty children and then have to give most them up to medical experiments.

This seems to be the ‘general’ course of a life in the very loosest interpretation I can think of: you’re born, you go to school, get married, have kids, grow old and die. Pretty damn boring. And depressing. I mean, who wants to basically live life like a paint-by-numbers template where one already knows one is doomed to tedium, boredom, pain and death from the moment of birth?

But is that the meaning of life? That no matter what you do, you will eventually die? I don’t mean to be morbid but when you’ve never fit into the paint-by-number mould (and who does?), what is the purpose of life? Everyone dies. That is an incontrovertible fact. Maybe, even though there’s a basic template (i.e. you’re born and sometime later you die), maybe we’re not supposed to color inside the lines. Maybe we’re supposed to mix up our own colors and use these individualized colors to create our lives. Maybe we throw away the pre-made template and create our own pictures of our lives.

I don’t have children. So I don’t have that immortality of the line thing happening. And when you don’t have children (or at least for me), you begin to wonder “Is this it? Is this all there is?” When you don’t see a thread of your DNA going into the future, your progeny taking up the journey of life where you will eventually stop, what is the point?

Most people’s lives center around their children, grandchildren. They see off into the distant future knowing that most likely, a part of them will be there to see what will happen. So they live their lives on a day to day basis--waking up, showering, getting the kids ready for school, going to work, chauffeuring the kids to soccer, ballet, music lessons, eating, sleeping, making love and then repeating some or all of it the next day. Your days are full and the future is some dark, distant island to where you’ll eventually arrive intact.

Then the kids go away to college or to live on their own, leaving you and your significant other staring at each other wondering, “How the hell did this happen and what do we do now??”

And like those people who didn’t have children, they, too, start wondering about the meaning of life. We’ve all heard the sayings, “your life is what you make of it”, “the one with the most toys upon dying wins” and the ubiquitous saying, “money makes the world go ‘round”.

One of my favorite quotations comes from Don Snyder--"Let us hope that we are all preceded in this world by a love story". And I think that’s the meaning of life--giving your love to your parents, siblings, spouses, children, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, your best friends, boyfriends, girlfriends et al. Pouring your love into your work and personal life, discovering what you love to do and why. That which makes you happy. A deep and abiding awe for life, in all its glory, in all its messy misery. Drinking deeply of whatever life has to offer you and doing something positive with it.

With one life to live, there isn’t a lot of time. Do something positive with it and maybe life will do something good for you.

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