Tuesday, May 4, 2010

What is the meaning of life?

Every day, I am reminded of this question. Just yesterday, while I was at the Columbus Centre doing my workout, I saw a bunch of school boys in the locker room. I thought to myself, these kids are very strong, they have great potential, they'll be able to do great things with their life.

My best days are long over. Once upon a time, I had great physical strength. I had a remarkably sharp mind. I had ambition. I coulda been a somebody...

Assuming I have another 20 "good" years left (what is a useful definition of "good"?), I'm counting down my days. Yesterday was day #7300. Today is #7299. It's not such a large number, is it?

(And after these days run out, I'll be warehoused, ready for physical expiration.)

It's frightening how easily one can waste a day away. I crawl into bed in the middle of the afternoon for a short nap, and suddenly several hours have vanished!

I watch some shows I've timeshifted from the night before, and more hours evaporate. I go out for a walk on a beautiful day, grab a Second Cup, sit down at the Eaton Centre for a little rest, and hours slip away.

I struggle with an Android tutorial, and a whole afternoon is gone!

I make for a lousy Time Lord. I can't manage my time very well. (The new season of Doctor Who is fabulous! I love Matt Smith.)

My life is running out too quickly. Eighty years are but a brief instant in time. (Stephen Hawking suggests that there may be alien civilizations that live out their entire existence in a matter of seconds!!)

To me, life is meaningless. I have no legacy, and no one to leave a legacy to. Nobody cares whether I live or die. Will anybody show up at my funeral? Will anybody bother to write an obituary for me? What would be the point?

In the final analysis, my life is about making the journey from Point A to Point B as comfortably as I can, without pain or sorrow, without anguish over the past or apprehension about the future. Simply make this moment pleasant. It doesn't have to be meaningful or useful or practical. It doesn't have to be important or memorable. I just have to feel good in it. This moment. Right now.

And like the morning dew, it vanishes.

No one is ever "remembered." You may "remember" Albert Einstein or Winston Churchill, but all you remember are the names and the deeds. Such remembrances have no meaning. They are merely bricks in the foundation of our civilization.

The meaning to *your* life, if it ever existed, dissolves when your last loved one expires. And with the death of memory, all is lost...

1 comment:

  1. Richard:

    One of my favourite students walked up to me after twenty years. He had gone directly into the software industry from high school and had returned to the Ottawa Valley to head up his own firm after a successful stint in Washington D.C.

    He reminded me of a long-forgotten comment which he had kept on a bulletin board in one form or another for his entire time in Washington: "Reality is the only word in the English language which should always be in quotation marks."

    He told me the hardest thing about working in software is that your life's work vanishes every time you shut your machine off. So he built a house along a creek, farms and raises a family.

    In your case, you sound like a man who needs to go fishing.

    Reinvent yourself. I retired at 54 from an career as an educator, only to become a walnut farmer. Will I ever make a dime at this? No, but we get to live on 114 beautiful acres, and I always have something to do: mow around the damned trees.

    The newspaper column takes up way too much time, but it keeps my mind working and my spelling skills sharp (grin).

    Take care,