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questions, questions...

...but never any answers. Perhaps you can help.

Today I was doing my sit-ups in the upstairs bedroom where I can look out the window onto leafless branches. A squirrel was grooming in the sunshine; it's a lovely day today. I wondered what life was to that little animal, and even if he was aware of life and time and so forth; he seemed content and full of purpose. He ceased grooming after a while and closed his eyes, simply enjoying the sunshine. This got me thinking, wondering what it is I want from life, which got me wondering what is this thing called life and why do we need to find or infuse meaning into it.

I find myself discontented. I want to know what I should do with my life. We are only allotted so much time, and we don't know how long that will be. Certainly we can hasten the end, but what to do with the time we are given? But to answer this, I at least need to understand what is the meaning of life.

Yes, a tiny little question that no one has asked before. But, seriously, this is important to me right now. Thanks for your time:

EDIT: PS - you can answer this using the question, "What is YOUR meaning of life" if that helps clarify things. Clearly, none of us can impose our meaning upon others, and the only true answers we give to this are from our own points of view.

Poll #933106 questions, questions...

What is the purpose of life? Please explain in a response if further explication will help us understand what you mean.

There is no purpose; everything we call "purpose" is our attempt to create order in a universe dedicated to increasing chaos and destruction of life. Only through fighting or accepting this do we find true meaning.
3(10.7%)
To learn everything you can learn, grow in wisdom.
1(3.6%)
To be productive and contribute everything you can.
0(0.0%)
To make the world a better place for having lived in it.
2(7.1%)
To love and be loved in return.
1(3.6%)
To enjoy it to the fullest, extract all the pleasure out of it as possible while causing harm to none.
2(7.1%)
To enjoy it to the fullest, extract all the pleasure out of it as possible, because we only get this one life; others can watch out for themselves.
0(0.0%)
To leave a lasting mark through published work, buildings named in your honor, named endowments, and so forth.
0(0.0%)
To help others, thereby creating a cascade of betterment that lasts into the future.
0(0.0%)
Other? Please explain.
3(10.7%)


Best,
Chris

Comments

( 23 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
clevermanka
Feb. 22nd, 2007 09:07 pm (UTC)
What is the purpose of life?

I think you might be better served if you ask people "What is the purpose of your life?" My purpose in life could be vastly different than those of most people, but that doesn't mean their goals are wrong or any less worthy.

I don't think there is any One Purpose Of Life. Rather, there are different purposes for different people, and those goals/ideas/visions won't stay the same through the course of anyone's lifetime.
arian1
Feb. 22nd, 2007 09:07 pm (UTC)
To crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of the women.
clevermanka
Feb. 22nd, 2007 09:33 pm (UTC)
weaselmom
Feb. 22nd, 2007 09:23 pm (UTC)
There is no intrinsic meaning. There are only the meanings that we assign. We play at meaning and cause-and-effect. My ferret sees me get my shoes out of the closet and sit down to put them on, and she runs upstairs in her cage and sits up and awaits the treat that she knows is forthcoming. Shoes mean a treat. Our search for meaning is not much more sophisticated than that, I think. Yet it works for her, it's the pattern of her life, and we muddle through our lives playing at meaning too. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

Why such a philosophical bent all of a sudden? (Where "sudden" means the past several months.) By all means, philosophize away, but I am used to you being Monkeyboy, Man Of Action!
silverfae
Feb. 22nd, 2007 09:24 pm (UTC)
:still chuckling over arian:

I chose "other". No matter what lofty goals I may think I need, the fact of the matter is that my life is probably going to look more like "About Schmidt".. small and rather meaningless in the overall scheme of things, except for the few people who may feel that they learned something from me.

I go for what I want, take what I can out of life, do what makes me happy for the most part. I have no legacies to leave, no goals to attain, no humanitarian causes. I live to have fun and make the most of what little time I'm given.

Funny, I just had a particularly similar email exchange with my mum, who puzzled me with her "I wish you were a believer" (in God) statement. When I asked her why that was important to her, I found out that she wants to know that I'll go to Heaven, because one can only get there through a belief in Jesus Christ and that he died so we are forgiven, etc.
Ack.
It's a bit puzzling to her that I told her I don't believe in Heaven, so I probably won't be there anyway. (nor Hell neither, for that matter).

So, I can conclude that she lives her life as a good person so that she can go to Heaven. Not my cuppa tea, thank you. I'll settle for not knowing what's next and just being as reasonably sane as I can muster.


clevermanka
Feb. 22nd, 2007 09:28 pm (UTC)
I agree with you. Being good just so you are assured a ticket to heaven seems like a really shitty reason to be good. I mean, I guess if that's what it takes to keep you from harming other people, but geez. It would be nice if people were good to each other because it felt nice to do so, you know?
silverfae
Feb. 22nd, 2007 09:36 pm (UTC)
Yah, never understood that myself. Especially since so many rabid believers are NOT very nice people. And what's the point of not sinning if Christ died for your forgiveness and so whdf? Which leads me to:
Does it even matter if you're shitty to others as long as you "believe" and therefore get to go to Heaven? What a funny belief systtem~!

... and yes, sometimes I do like to be shitty to people that I feel deserve it, so where does that leave me? Not on the list above, I guess, haha.
blzblack
Feb. 22nd, 2007 09:39 pm (UTC)
It's actually more complicated than portrayed.
silverfae
Feb. 22nd, 2007 09:46 pm (UTC)
Oh, I'm just being simplistic here.
Besides, I understand the interpretation varies depending upon the sect also.
Although the common thread I found in all variations of religion is indeed "be good and be good to each other", that's not a bad thing in itself.
blzblack
Feb. 22nd, 2007 09:43 pm (UTC)
It's more like being nice to people you wouldn't ordinarily be nice to. It constantly challenges you (or it's supposed to work that way).
silverfae
Feb. 22nd, 2007 09:49 pm (UTC)

Well, damn, I do that on a daily basis.. I call it "being at work."
silverfae
Feb. 22nd, 2007 09:51 pm (UTC)

.. it occurs to me that this question caught me in a more cynical turn of thought today. My answers may even vary tomorrow or if I'd been at home when I saw it, or not in the middle of the convo with my mum.

blzblack
Feb. 22nd, 2007 09:54 pm (UTC)
If you'd ordinarily do it, then it isn't a challenge. It may be you're already as good as you can stretch yourself to be.
blzblack
Feb. 22nd, 2007 09:41 pm (UTC)
I recently read a piece that said that (birds?) some animal plots out his best course, i.e. plans ahead. Not sure if I could find it again.
clevermanka
Feb. 22nd, 2007 09:42 pm (UTC)
My general goals in life:

  • Do my best to not be an asshole.
  • When I fuck up, learn from it and move on.
  • Enjoy what I have, when I have it.
  • Try to make other's lives easier, and/or more enjoyable.

    Does my overall life have a general purpose, though? No. I don't think so.
  • oldwolf
    Feb. 22nd, 2007 09:57 pm (UTC)
    Hiya!

    But what if life isn't so special? What if life does exist on other planets? And at other times? I once commented to a friend that science is the only religion that seeks to demystify itself through educating us about the universe around us. And why do I feel like Carl Sagan all of a sudden??? Very interesting topic.
    hdorsettcase
    Feb. 22nd, 2007 10:06 pm (UTC)
    Dude the purpose of life is to figure out what the purpose of life is, what's the point of anything else? The answer's different for everyone and for some its simpler and for others its more complex. That's why some people are happy and got their life figured out at 20 and others work their ass off doing things and are still unfulfilled at 50.
    scarlettina
    Feb. 22nd, 2007 10:20 pm (UTC)
    I think hdorsettcase has it nailed.

    The part of me that is old and cynical, upon reading your entry, thought "Ah-ha! Welcome to your midlife crisis!" And it thought this only because I've been at the Midlife Crisis Cocktail Party for about 3 years now; I've apparently finally gotten to the dark, close room at the very back end of the party complex and am currently trying to find my way out. That being the case, I stand on my tiptoes, spy you through the crowd, and wave enthusiastically. The room is filled with good friends, at the very least, and it's good to know we're not alone in here.
    sdemory
    Feb. 22nd, 2007 10:53 pm (UTC)
    Personally, I don't acknowledge the presence of a greater power. I'm not comfortable with the supernatural in my life, so I cast it aside.

    That being said, I do believe that one should leave the world better than one found it and do one's best to increase the overall common weal. Because I'm a big fucking liberal.
    garyomaha
    Feb. 23rd, 2007 03:02 am (UTC)
    See lyrics to "Everything Possible" by Fred Small:
    http://www.jg.org/folk/artists/fredsmall/everything.possible.lyrics.html
    (scroll down a ways on the page)

    As jaylake would say, Money Shot:

    And the only measure of your words and your deeds
    Will be the love you leave behind when you're done.
    skyflame
    Feb. 23rd, 2007 05:27 am (UTC)
    I've certainly gotten a self-education in learning and wisdom in the last 8 months, as my therapist pointed out today.
    emessar
    Feb. 27th, 2007 08:32 am (UTC)
    I used to have a long, drawn-out, convoluted answer to this but anymore, I think it's mostly about happiness ... finding your own, and giving as much as you can to others ... and pretty much in that order, if only because it's hard to bring joy into another's life when you have none of your own.

    And to that end, the Reggae Gospel Circumcision Song
    ( 23 comments — Leave a comment )

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