This post was going to be a long and philosophical ramble about the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything. As I attempted a deep soul-searching exploration of the subject, my brain could only come up with things like “42”, “always know where your towel is”, and “don’t panic.” Yes, I may have read a certain Douglas Adams’ novel one too many times, rendering the search for life’s deeper meaning and purpose utterly unproductive.
Okay, okay, I’ll stop with the Hitcherhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy references and attempt a semi-serious commentary on the meaning and purpose of life. Here goes my exceedingly astute theory… I have no bloody idea what the meaning and purpose of life is, or if there is even one. I don’t think I’ll ever have the answer. A part of me is completely convinced that there isn’t one. That’s right, I said it: there is no greater purpose or meaning for us to be here, other than as the by-product of some interesting bio-chemical processes. Another part of me wants to curl up in a little whimpering ball at the possibility that there is no greater meaning.
While the universe hasn’t been exactly forthcoming with the answer to the Ultimate Question, I think that human beings have a capacity within ourselves to create our own individual meaning and purpose in this life. I also believe that purpose and meaning can be as shallow or deep as we see fit to make it for ourselves. I’m going to emphasize this again for clarity – I think that meaning and purpose is determined at an individual level, if it’s determined at all. One size does not fit all in this case, nor is there one single answer to the question. While we may have help deriving meaning and determining our purpose from various allies (deities, guides, other humans, etc), we must decide in the end what our own purpose and meaning are. That means we have to put some thought into what we want, what makes us tick, what we get when we get down to the deepest part of ourselves. And you know what? That can be hard bloody work, unless you’re one of those select few that knew when you were in the cradle what it was you were born to do.
For the rest of us, there’s the looming question. I don’t know why you are here or what your purpose is. I barely have an inkling of what my own might be. Am I here to teach others? Is my purpose to simply love and be loved? Am I here to be the bad example of how not to behave? Is the purpose of this life simply to be an expression of the divine spark? Or am I simply here to reproduce and contribute to the survival of the species (in which case, I am an abject failure and simply taking up space)? More importantly, does it matter why I am here? Is it not enough that I am here and have this opportunity to simply be? Maybe the question should not be what the point of life is, but rather, does it matter if life has a point? I’ll leave you to ponder the questions for yourself. Me and my towel are off to the lake to hang out with some really hoopy froods.*
*You know I couldn’t let the post end without at least one more HGTTG reference. Just be glad I didn’t bring up Vogon poetry. (For those who have no clue what I’m rambling about, my apologies. I am completely incapable of having serious philosophical discussions without references to at least one of the following authors: Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett, J. R.R. Tolkien, Neil Gaiman. I’ve also been known to throw in random bits of Shakespeare, Poe, and Faulkner into the mix. )