When was the last time you sat alone in a room and contemplated the meaning of your life? When was the last time you looked beyond two inches in front of your nose and evaluated why you bother to breathe in and out? Why do you wake up each day and go out into the world, interacting with other life forms inhabiting this terra firma? Have you ever taken the time to get existential?
Can you think of a reason for living other than one defined by your own sense of individuality? Are you capable of looking outside of yourself and seeing something greater, or are you trapped inside your own head? Does anything you do even matter? What is the difference between being alive and actually living?
This life is so great, and yet, infinitesimally small. We awake from our slumber to a new day. But is it truly new or simply a mildly varied version of the day before? How do we define our sense of awareness of the change in time from yesterday and today?
So much is taken for granted when moving from one moment to the next. And while we take these moments for granted, we become more egotistical in our definition of time. Our own perception of events shapes our frame of reference, and so defined, we fundamentally isolate ourselves from those around us. If we do not perceive of a change, that change doesn’t exist.
How is it possible that so many of us go through life without asking the greater questions? How can you live inside your own head and expect everyone around you to operate within your individualized reality?
Who Are You?
Consider the needs, emotions, fears, desires, heat, sound, sweat, skin and bone that surround us. But to do so would be to admit you’re not the center of the universe. Life does not revolve around you. You are not the star of your own show.
Despite what you have been told your entire life, what you eat, where you travel, who you fuck, and how much money you spend is completely irrelevant. Certainly no one else cares. The greater your need for validation from others, the deeper the hollowness that exists within your soul.
And so, inevitably, we must all ask and answer the all-important question: what is the meaning of life?
Why must we ask and answer this question? Because if you are unable to ask it, you are nearly inhuman. More importantly, if you are unable to answer it, you have no reason to live.
Should you desire to have more value than a stray dog on the street, you must wrestle with the basic definition of you who are and why you are here.
A Time for Reflection
There’s power in my position, sitting here in my comfortable chair, enjoying the fruits of my carefully cultivated life, asking these seemingly impossible questions.
So many people insist there are no definitive answers, so why bother with the mental exercise? But if that’s true, then the answer is clear: there is no point to living. And if there is no point (read: value) in living, then the person sitting next to you has no intrinsic value. Thus you can do anything you want to anyone without the burden of guilt. And, by extension, one could act out their impulses on you without moral repercussions.
But, we know, somewhere deep inside, that can’t be right. Something inside compels us to place some level of value on human life. Whether it’s purely utilitarian or intrinsic varies from person to person, but remember it is your egotistical perspective that remains almost impossible to shake. How you evaluate one individual has to be weighed against how someone else views that same individual, weighed again against how that individual views himself.
The problem is encapsulated by the circular logic that has to be utilized in order to define our individual value. We use our single mind’s perspective, and bounce that off the perspective of other minds around us. But all of these minds are constrained by their individualized, ego-centric perception.
Life and Awareness
Further, we are limited by a basic lack of understanding of what constitutes the nature of life itself. Origin. Definition. Awareness.
In our theorized 150 Million years of human existence, there seems to be no definitive answer. But how can that be when we can definitively define the physical world around us? How is it possible that we are unable to define the meta-physical? The abstract. The spiritual. The source of emotion. The concept of love. The inherent belief that we have intrinsic value and should define our social constructs in such a way as to protect the notion of individual life being important.
If humanists are to be believed, you simply cease to exist. Awareness ends and you no longer define your reality because it is impossible to do so. If Buddhists are right, your spirit becomes one with the universe around you, as if it carried its own physical principles and is unable to be destroyed. And because it can’t be destroyed, your essence moves into another physical body. Why that body always exists on earth has baffled me for years, but perhaps even Buddha couldn’t see past that belly.
Either way, your current life has little to no bearing on what happens after you die. Perhaps some good deeds mean you reincarnate as something better, but who defines “better?” If humans are the peak of the evolution of multi-cellular organism, why does everyone seem to reincarnate as a butterfly?
Find Purpose in Life
The point of this diatribe is not to answer these questions for you, but to ensure you’re asking these questions of yourself. How can you call yourself a man if you have no answers to the most fundamental questions of life?
How can you be a leader if, in the end, you can’t provide fundamental reasons to move from moment to moment in a calculated, prescriptive way that maximizes impact on the universe? If others find out you’re just as clueless as they are, you will be ignored.
Even worse, if you are unable to see beyond yourself, you’ll never see the crushing blow coming. Life will eat you up, spit you out, and no one will even notice.
Find purpose. And ensure that purpose extends beyond the microcosm of the synaptic firings in your own skull. Electrical impulses maximized for pleasure do not constitute purpose. It is the very definition of worthlessness. Know your place in the universe and you may one day find yourself where I am. Sitting in a position of power, asking those around you why they even bother to live another second.