It never used to bother me that the purpose of life hid somewhere over the rainbow. I took pleasure in the search for it. Lately what was a happy search has turned into a battle without weapons, a boat ride without oars and a train without rails. In apathy I have surrendered, strangely relieved.
Many years ago my friend Pandabear told me that I had developed a rather defeatist worldview. Today I appear to myself so defeated I almost take pleasure in it. Like tripping on some sick masochistic “ha! I knew it!” For years, decades, I smiled for the cameras. Not in order to look happy, but to genuinely be happy. Smiling with effort, having fun with effort, taking care of others with effort, being happy – with effort. With little energy left, I am different today. Not at my lowest but without substance. I barely recognise her who stares back in the mirror.
Many were the years when my greatest fear was to acknowledge that life indeed has no meaning. That our lives pass, without there being a right, a wrong. We just are. Our good behaviour matters not more, nor less, than our bad behaviour. With no responsibility for the pain we cause others and our world. That pain matters not one bit more than we do. If the pain that has been caused in my life not matters, would it be possible for my feelings regarding it to matter? Of course not. Nothing in my being would matter. I am entirely pointless. I could disappear and it would not matter. One pointless existence lost would not matter more than my existence in the first place. It is a liberating thought.
Even, let’s say, that I were to do something that the world consider meaningful. Perhaps I would find the cure for cancer, save the dolphins or make someone smile. Would that not also be utterly pointless?
Astronomers estimate that the observable universe is at the size of an atom to the size of the expected universe. It is also estimated to be 13,8 billion of years old. Statistically speaking, I will live roughly 80 years and my person occupy less than a cubic mete. With that in mind, reconsider objecting to my clause. Your second argument, might go along the lines of: “but surely we matter to the people around us”. This argument favours the notion that we are obliged to make the people around us feel like they are ‘meaningful’. But I am not so sure we have such an obligation and besides are we not kidding ourselves here a bit?
If I were to disappear few people would notice. Out of 8 billion people only a handful of people would actually care. My landlady might wonder why there is no rent being paid and my boss might wonder where that report is. But it is not like that would be a big issue. I am easily replaced. A friend or two might wonder why there is no new update on Facebook, another might wonder why I do not respond to their email. But to be honest and I mean this without any bitterness nor accusation (I have been no better), in a period of my life I was off Facebook for years and as self-obsessed as we all are, no one seemed to take any notice. Additionally, I have at occasions written messages, email and postcards and dutifully they are answered most of the time. But the moments when someone talks to you first is not so commonly experienced. When this happens, people tend to want something from you, or tell you something particular about themselves. Which is fine, it is the nature of the human ego, but it highlights my point.
The only people that really would be implicated were I to disappear are my parents. Against my will and without any helping it from either part, they have made me their purpose in life. I guess it is the nature of parenthood, and why throughout history the progression of life is supposedly the purpose of it in the first place. My affection for my parents forces me to consider their wellbeing as a purpose for me. It is the enshacklement of love. Yet in a natural scenario I will outlive my parents.
A while back I was talking with my mother on my latest mindf*ck. Namely the idea that the humans now alive ought to be the last generation. No more children. No more future generations. We could split all the world’s wealth, live our lives entirely without limitations or restrictions and have a hell of a goodbye-party. There would be no need to consider the environment for our children; no need to save for the future; no concerns except the pleasures of your lifetime. Hedonistic perhaps, but hey, are we not all heathens deep down?
Here and now, that would be all.
My mother countered by arguing that humans create so much beauty, knowing it is a weakness of mine. But what made of the hands of man can compete with what is made by nature, chance or whatever God who might be in charge?
The sad thing about my worldview is that initially it was meant as a preservation of the beauty of nature. That as humans only destroy, nature would be better off without us. Now my argument goes differently. If our lives are meaningless, it cannot be wrong to destroy nature. The terminology is wrong. We do not destroy nature, we change it. Maybe causing the extinction of species, maltreating our animals, dumping toxins in the oceans, burning the forests, is not really a ‘problem’. Maybe so is hurting others for our personal gain, killing, beating, lying, betraying. Maybe it just is. Maybe it is only human nature. Why fight it?
Perhaps humanity’s greatest sin is the pride to believe that she is above mere ‘being’, to believe that she has ‘meaning’. To believe that, like a god, she could ever possibly do something good and meaningful.
In my newly found clarity it looks as though we search for meaning wherever we can glimpse its pale reflection. We write another possibly remotely funny/shocking/heartwarming post on facebook expecting some thumbs-up. We diet and tan hoping to look a bit better in that bedroom mirror. We let people abuse us for their own personal gratification, praying that some of it might rub off on us. We hunt yet another pokemon, because apparently it is the latest in escapism. We watch another Hollywood movie, filling ourselves with how amazing life could be if we looked like Brad Pitt or were Batman. We reproduce, hoping that in someone else’s life, we suddenly matter.
So we keep smiling to the cameras. Hoping that no one will see through the cracks, especially not ourselves.
Smiling for the cameras is also the (not so) grand promotion of my recently initiated vlog. Motivating it with: despite it all, we still need to keep smiling for the cameras. The show must go on! Curious? Visit Puzzle Pieces In Motion.Outro:
As I finish up editing this post an elderly gentleman knocks on my door. He is there to return my little chili-plant that he took from outside my door months before, now dingling with fruits…
Life is pretty darn strange.