What is the Meaning of Life?
I have a friend who always answers this question with, "The meaning of life is to give life meaning." It sounds good, I will admit that, but what does that mean? Who defines what a meaningful life consists of?
- Does it mean getting married? Because there are hundreds of thousands of people who never even find love.
- Does it mean having lifelong friendships? Because I can't seem to think of anyone I'm still close to now that I've moved a thousand miles away from most of them.
- Does it mean getting that job you've always wanted? Because I still don't know what I want to do with my life, let alone what job might facilitate my happiness.
- Does it mean being able to afford all the things you want? Because it hasn't been proven that any of this stuff will follow us to whatever the afterlife has in store for you and I.
I give him credit for what is a good answer for him, I just don't believe it's that cut-and-dry.
Life doesn't come with a mission statement. It's not like a job where there are people in charge who tell you that this is what you're going to do and this is how you will live up to their standards. Because life doesn't have a boss. Unless you have religious beliefs that govern your views, all you're given when you come out of the womb is a slap on the butt and some air for your lungs. I can tell you now that neither of those helped me learn to read, make friends, get over a broken heart or deal with Braxton Hicks contractions.
So what is the meaning of life?
The beauty of that question is that we don't have to accept anyone's answer but our own. We don't have to believe what someone else tells us. The meaning of life to me could be eating Nutella and lounging in a literal bed of roses. Thankfully, you don't have to agree. You don't have to live your life according to my beliefs. I could be right, who knows, but I'm sure there's a lot of people who wouldn't mind living wrong if that were the case.
James Frey once said that the meaning of life is "whatever you want it to be". He had it right on the money. Not that he necessarily had a philosophy we can all subscribe to, just the belief that whatever we choose to believe is good enough for him. We don't have to have something realistic or meaningful, religious or thought-provoking, we don't even have to have an answer to the question.
So I don't feel bad when I tell others that I don't know what the meaning of life is. I don't have a clue. I think my purpose here on earth is to do what God sent me here to do, but I don't even know what that is. It's no wonder my life seems to be at a stale-mate. I have a loving husband, I'm eight months pregnant, I'm not exactly struggling to stay above water. But I'm not sure where I'll be in five years or even where I'll want to be. I don't know why half the expectations people set on our lives exist in the grand scheme of things. What purpose do they have? Will they make us happy? At the end of our life will we look back and fondly remember that promotion we worked so hard to get or that Christmas present we spent days making for the one we loved? Does any of this even matter?