One thing that has always separated me from most of the people around me is that I don’t just talk about things, I do them. Yesterday, after writing about how the important things in my life are slipping away from me, I hit the “publish” button, and then I got up from my desk and walked out. I went home from work at 10 am, played my bass for a bit, took my wife to the movies, dinner, and a half hour massage (each), then we came home and watched some t.v. before going to bed.
In those 9 hours between noon and 9 pm I found more meaning, and produced more moments of lasting value, than I have in the hundreds of hours I have spent at work these last several months.
This morning I am back at my desk.
I am facing a situation I am unsure how to resolve. Because I am not a typical person I cannot ask for the advice of those around me. I am simply stuck, with no apparent path in front of me.
The bleating sheep to my left and right tell me that this is just “the way it is”. They have accepted their lot in life is to stand around eating the grass until someone decides to turn them in to a lamb chop. They are content to pass the time, live and die, and do nothing more significant than have children. I actually told someone that my goal would be to eventually play music in a band full time, not to chase the money but just to enjoy the process. Her reply was, “that’s not very responsible”.
People like that make me wonder.
I do not know how to get from where I am to where I want to be. The constraints of society force me to spend my time doing meaningless crap so that I can earn a paycheck. And then I give most of it away to someone else, spend two fleeting days attempting to enjoy myself, and begin the process anew every Monday morning. This is living?
I am the recipient of sideways glances just for asking that question.
The thing is, as I progress further and further down the road I started on one fateful day some fifteen years ago in a Yahoo chat room, I find myself unable to see the point to any of this. The entirety of human endeavor is pointless. Nothing we do will last forever. We will not even last forever as a species. So we go about our lives building and creating, inventing and discovery, composing, writing, drawing…and then we die. And then the people who knew us die. And eventually everyone dies. The planet dies. The solar system dies. All traces that any of us ever existed are wiped from the cosmic mind, and everything that ever was becomes meaningless.
This is the essence, I think, of religion. It is why many of the adherents of the world’s various religions are so adamant about their beliefs. Having been one of them, I feel qualified to speak to this matter.
Religion tells us many tales. But they all revolve around this one feeling. They all seek to comfort the soul that asks the question, “What’s the point?”
The point is to bring glory to God, to serve him/her, to find eternal life. In other words, to solve the problem and answer the question. Why do anything if it all passes away eventually? And the western theologian smiles, pats your head, and assures you that it doesn’t all just pass away. There is not only life after this one, but eternal life. Life that never ends. Where the things you did are punished or rewarded, and therefore have meaning.
The eastern theologian, in many instances, subscribes to this same belief. They just call the higher being by a different name. But for some it is a much longer and more convoluted process. There is birth and rebirth, cause and effect, karma and reincarnation. But the purpose remains the same. That being to assign meaning to what we are doing here in the first place.
I cannot find that meaning. And there is no peace in deciding that there is no meaning, when you are forced to participate in the meaningless.
Yesterday I was at peace. I was living in the moment. I was doing what I wanted to do only until I didn’t want to do it anymore, and then I was doing something else. I was content with the notion that though what I did yesterday would have no lasting meaning or purpose, it had purpose in the moment during which it was happening.
Today I am back in my cubicle, growing older by the minute. With each tap of these keys a fraction of my life passes in to history, never to be regained or relived. I am a step closer to a hole in the ground, and in taking that step I have done absolutely nothing I care about. Knowing that I only have a finite number of moments before I run out, how can I continue to waste them in this manner?
I am reminded of a Steven Curtis Chapman song called “More to this Life”. Though I do not think Steven is any closer to the answer than I am, his words still strike me.
Today I watched in silence as people passed me by,
And I strained to see if there was something hidden in their eyes;
But they all looked back at me as if to say
Life just goes on.
The old familiar story told in different ways,
Make the most of your own journey from the cradle to the grave;
Dream your dreams tomorrow because today
Life must go on.
But there’s more to this life than living and dying,
More than just trying to make it through the day;
More to this life, more than these eyes alone can see,
And there’s more than this life alone can be.
Tonight he lies in silence staring into space,
And looks for ways to make tomorrow better than today,
But in the morning light it looks the same;
Life just goes on.
He takes care of his family, he takes care of his work,
And every Sunday morning he takes his place at the church;
And somehow he still feels a need to search,
But life just goes on.