How Do We Find the Meaning of Life?
I think the moment I became an adult is the moment I realized there is no meaning in life but what I could find in it. Maybe the realization came on like a forgotten ash-covered ember that burst into a blinding light. Or maybe it was delivered by The Little Voice that whispered this primordial wisdom in my ear as I floated between sleep and awareness in the early morning. But however this realization entered my consciousness, I had a choice in that moment. And then in ten thousand more moments, for as long as I breathe. Do I continue down the well-worn (I mean 8-lane highway, concrete and asphalt well-worn) path of the work-a-day world, or do I do the thing that seems crazy to everyone else but brings clarity and meaning to me?
If we are indeed, as Carl Sagan said, living Star Stuff and a way for the Cosmos to know itself, who are we to sit on our asses behind computer screens at safe, predictable jobs? If we are the consciousness of an otherwise empty (so far) Universe, don’t we owe it to whatever creative force that exploded itself so that we could have a go at life…to have…a life? To have some experience of this gorgeous, messy, painful, amazing planet? To do something meaningful to us? And what does “meaningful” even mean? The beauty of that question is that the answer is already present. What does “meaningful” mean to you?
I’ve decided that I’m willing to take a bit of a risk and quit a very stable job with co-workers I like to find out where I find meaning. Today, I put in my resignation. In a month, we will be driving what little remains of our possessions to Florida to move onto our 42′ Whitby ketch, Star Stuff. My husband and I talked briefly about other names, but this was the one that felt meaningful, so the hull has been painted! I love this name, for it will be a reminder each time I see it to check in with myself and ask, “am I being good Star Stuff? Am I collecting wild, wonderful, unique experiences as part of a living Cosmos? Am I testing my limits; am I creating?” These are the things I find meaningful. These (and who knows what else!) are the things I want to pursue in the last half of my life.
I’ve done nearly everything I was “supposed” to do. Had a couple houses, cars, flat screen TVs, therapy, booze. No kids, or I’d need even more of all of the above. But, I feel a bit constrained by the outside world’s “shoulds” list. Ask my mother – I was always an independent kid. Nothing’s changed, but now I have enough. Well, I’ve made the decision that I have enough. If you let the advertising industry in too deep in your mind, “enough” is a dangling carrot you can never quite catch. So, I’m off the promises of happiness through stuff and things and work and vacations. I’m going to see what happens when I write daily. When I shoot photography and video. When I have conversations with strangers. When I do yoga daily. When I eat weird food with spices my brain can’t quite process. Come back soon if you’d like. I’m grateful you read this whole thing – I’ll try and keep it shorter in the future.