Beyond Meaning

Last fall we here at Blogagaard did a four part series on the meaning of life. Not surprisingly, nothing concrete was determined, and now in many ways we find that we exist in a world beyond meaning.

Yet, this is not as dark and depressing as it sounds. Actually, if viewed under a certain light, it's quite refreshing.

Everyone is either looking for or believes they've found meaning in their lives. Even people who claim to exist just because they're too lazy or frightened to kill themselves are in this category: their meaning can be found in the preference of living over making an effort to not live. In fact, if you want to look at the idea of meaning of life darkly, you could almost say people who have found meaning in their lives are people who've found at least one really good reason not to kill themselves, to keep on making a concerted effort to exist and even thrive in a world that can often be cruel and draining. Meaning is often perceived as the suicide antidote, and that is why so many people scramble about trying to find it every day and in so many different forms.

But what if, for whatever reason, you suddenly find yourself in a world that is not exactly meaning-less, but without meaning whatsoever? This is a terrifying prospect at first glance. Somebody call the nihilistic, the atheists. "We're nihilistic, Lebowski. We believe in nothing. Nothing!" Let's all smoke opium and stare bleakly into the abyss...

Except, it's not really like that. For me, anyway. People are always so worried about finding that meaning, they spend so much psychic and physical energy engaged in the pursuit of Meaning that they can never relax totally, they always have the buzzing voice in the back of their minds telling them their lives aren't quite good enough, that there's always something more...Meaningful than what they have in front of them. As a nation we Americans have not only become junkies for consuming goods such as clothes, food, and pop culture, but we've become Meaning junkies as well. In fact, the more goods we consume the more our hunger for meaning seems to grow as well, as if the process of consuming actually rips an increasingly larger hole deep within us we hope to plug via mega-churches, spiritual retreats, yoga, camping, therapy, global tourism, sex, and even political activists (which often blurs into sex. Ha ha). We're like that hungry snake that's swallowed its own tail and is now in the eternal process of devouring itself....

So what if we step from the entire meaning hunt and decide it doesn't matter if life Means anything or not? We're here right now, and that's all we can really go by. We do what we can. Why all this focus on an unattainable end product? People have epiphanies of all sorts, but anyone who claims to have found the Meaning of Life is totally wrong by definition, since as soon as you think you understand something as indefinable as that you're already way off (I know, how terribly Taoist of me, eh Troy?). Recently it was suggested to me that the tired old question, "What is the meaning of life?" is the wrong question altogether.

Or maybe it's not really the wrong question, but one question in a sea of questions, all of which are of equal import no matter how prosaic they may seem, since in the end we will all be left with only questions, and it is the questions, not the Answer, that feeds our souls, that keep us marching towards our individual "The End" with our heads held high. In many ways the idea of living in a world beyond meaning is quite calming, and suggests that we no longer have to keep running about our lives mad with insecurity, none of us any longer "late, late, for a very important date."

10 comments:

shortygrrrl said...

Damn it, Bloppy, you're making me tear up. Good work.

Apparition Jones said...

Excellent points, though I always thought the answer was 42.

Blogagaard said...

Thanks, Leah! You're a sweetie.

Appy, I actually thought of Douglas Adams when I was writing this essay. We must find the right question...

Something dirty said...

is it 6 times 7? no?


I like this essay very much.

Blogagaard said...

thanks SD... or should I call you, Smarty Pants? (:

Something dirty said...

hee hee :)

I am having trouble saying anything to the point about these blogs i've been reading lately so instead I've just been saying "here, here" "I agree" or "I would take that tour and perhaps buy a postcard".

Matt Belcher said...

The dude abides. He's just taking it easy for all us sinners.

Steph Wilbur Ash said...

You really put your finger on my existentialist bone(r).

mikeythebison said...

I'm not so sure everyone is either looking for or believes they've found meaning in their lives; I think there are people who honestly don't care. These people probably have jobs, things that they do that they feel are important, but I don't think they contemplate the actual meaning of life, they are just doing their thing. Of course, maybe they have been well distracted by all the things that can hold our short attention spans.

I think that's what your suggesting, but it seems to be directed at those of us who care to ponder the meaning of life. I'm thinking that there are people who already live the 'careless' lifestyle already. Is it comforting? No doubt. Will I stop wondering about my existance? No, I don't think it's somthing I can turn off. But I wish I could...

Blogagaard said...

Thanks, Mikey. I have no idea what to say, but thanks!

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