The Point of It All

January 15, 2011
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For as long as we’ve been capable of philosophizing, we have searched for an answer to the world’s greatest existential mystery: the meaning of life.

Go ahead, take a stab at it. You won’t be the first, and you certainly won’t be the last. The thinking man has tried to get a grasp on the matter since the ancient days of Socrates, without much success; the theories just keep piling up. Some argue that as individuals, we function to feel. Others think that our lives are defined by our experiences. Buddhism dictates that we live to live again, until we’ve learned so much that we can let go of our earthly desires and reach a perpetual state of enlightenment. And then, of course, there are those dirty biologists, who believe that we exist for the sake of procreation, to continue the human race. What a thought…

But in all seriousness, an established meaning of life is a ridiculous concept. How could we ever come to an accepted conclusion regarding the purpose of our existence? We work for different goals; we harbor different expectations; we carry out different lifestyles; we follow different beliefs. As human beings, we’re just different. We’re bound to disagree with any “meaning” that a scientist, philosopher, or blogger can come up with.

There’s another problem, too. Let’s say we were to decipher life’s grand rationale. Wouldn’t this change our outlook? We’d cease to function as human beings and instead turn into slaves of our own intended purposes. We’d be mindless robots working toward a common goal. Rather than living as individuals, with dreams, aspirations, hobbies and relationships, we’d be relegated to piece-of-puzzle status. We’d be cogs in a wheel, bricks in a wall, beams in a building. In spite of the existence of a meaning of life, our lives would not be all that meaningful.

But hey, let’s keep rolling with it. Say that hypothetically, the aforementioned theory about experiences defining our lives is true. In order to give our lives meaning, then, we’d have to take all the experiences we’ve ever had and make them into something coherent. We’d have to gather all the fading summer memories, blend them with the fights we’ve had with our parents, mix them with the simple pleasures of a sunny day, splice them into streaks of loneliness. Throw in some utter devastation for good measure. Sprinkle in the relief you felt when you finished that essay.

How do you quantify all that? I don’t think you can. I don’t think you’re meant to. I don’t believe it’s possible to take everything you’ve ever known and add it all together to create some kind of equation whose output is the meaning of your life.

I know that this is just one theory we’re talking about, so let’s continue down the row. If we function to feel, then what do feelings amount to? And if we live to live again, does one life alone carry any value? And if we exist for the sake of procreation, are we useless once we’ve had a child? What about bachelors and homosexuals?

Look, I think we can agree that finding the meaning of life is a really frustrating process. I don’t think it’s worth it. And in truth, I’m pretty sure that there isn’t any meaning at all, because if there was, it would be a hell of a lot easier to figure out.

My plan is to breathe, relax and let the winds of change take me where they want to take me. If God is real and he’s got a meaning in mind, he can call me up and tell me. That is, if I answer the phone.

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This article has 5 comments. Post your own now!

d0gluv3r425 said...
Jan. 30, 2011 at 6:58 pm
This is very well-written and insightful. However, unlike the previous commenters, I am not going to give you my opinion on the meaning of life. 
Sylvia said...
Jan. 25, 2011 at 2:53 pm
The meaning of life is to give it your own meaning :^)
luvxmex4xwutxIxam said...
Jan. 21, 2011 at 10:08 am
Well there really is a meaning to life, and I know where to find it! Its in the Bible. The Bible tells us everything we would ever need to know, but you have to actually READ the Bible and not just go along with what someone says and then try to find the one true religion that teaches EXACTLY what the Bible says then you will have the meaning to life! The bible is full of fact and prophecy that no human could of ever known without being inspired of God. So take a look at what God is telling us a... (more »)
Demosthenes said...
Jan. 19, 2011 at 8:21 pm
Interesting. I agree in more ways than not. However, would you not agree that the meaning of life is simply to live? I feel as though this was implied within your text, whether it was intentional or not. There is only one prime directive that we are given at birth, and that is to live our lives. The definition of living varies from person to person, so it is clearly not quantifiable in any way, a point on which I strongly agree with you. Perhaps the search for a meaning of life is just another p... (more »)
sFreedman94 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Jan. 20, 2011 at 7:52 pm
I'm with you on that one. Really cool viewpoint. Thanks for posting!
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