I have finally concluded that Life holds no meaning—for any and all of humanity.
I noted this in an earlier article, “Entertaining Ourselves Until We Die”. I want to accentuate this further in the proof that even religious circles have not the answer, and that there is an urgency in living your bucket list now.
This will be quite the simple article, as most of mine are, so don’t worry. Just enjoy the ride.
St. Ambrose or St. Augustine, it really doesn’t matter whom, said that “the chief good of man (humanity) is to love God, and to enjoy Him forever,” excluding all the other religions that have God as a female figure or figures, too, I suppose. This agrees with whomever it was who wrote Ecclesiastes, be it King Solomon as most presume, or anyone else. He/she says that “All is vanity, a chasing after the wind,” concluding that the only thing left to do is what we were “meant” to do, which is to “remember Our Creator while in our youth while the silver cord is still not broken…”—meaning to start prepping ourselves for encountering the utter meaninglessness of life while young, by worshipping God. In short, you’re born, you eat shit, you praise God, gain some measure of reprieve, eat more shit, and then you die. Hopefully, you don’t die like C.S. Lewis’s acquaintance/friend, whom Lewis claims to be absurd as his friend lay in his bed, dying, screaming he could see that there were little devils carrying his soul away to hell. What a way to go. Lewis even mocked him in one or other of his books. The poor man probably was just being truthful, delusional or not (who knows?) This speaks more about Lewis than about the dying man.
Referencing an earlier article on my blog, I wrote that you should go after your bucket list, NOW. Yet, that is contrary to Christian thought. In the Book of Genesis, God cursed Adam to toil at the soil for food all his life against thorns and thistles and illnesses and human problems, all of which now include technology from that wretched combustion engine to AI and nanotechnology, and then die to come meet his Maker (loosely paraphrasing the intent of that passage here). There is no visible or contextual mention of a bucket list for wretched Adam, or Abel, or Cain, or Seth—not to mention for Eve either, since she was meant to be the Mother of all Mankind, complete with excruciating labour pains and a woeful desperation for her husband who would rule over her. Both Original Parents were desperate for rest, hoping their children would, like any good Asian kid, take over the family business, and look after them in their dotage. Happy family? Unfortunately not.
Humanity, after all this, was not meant to have fun, according to Judaeo-Christian thought. After all, God sent fiery, flying serpents to attack to death the desert-meandering first generation of His Chosen People in exodus after He had discovered that, “My people sat down to eat, and stood up to play.” Gluttony and Fornication. Here we go.
You get the sense that all God wants is for us to suffer and praise Him in spite of it. You start to ask, how on earth can He coerce us to do that. Enter fire and brimstone. H-E-L-L. If you can’t coerce them with punishment now from this life’s distractions, focus on consequences of the “next life”, which is a whooooolllle other, mind-bending dimension of Time that we cannot comprehend. But no need to figure it out: God has outsmarted us, once again. Just be a good girl or boy, rally around your God-appointed leaders, and remember to tithe. And not necessarily in that order.
So basically, one is kept safe through suffering. Pfft, as if angst ever made an attractive incentive. Yet, to refuse is to be a fool; because actually, the attractive incentive is in the next life, which, as we have already established, has a befuddling effect on the mind.
So what’s left? The bleak, brutish, nasty, short lifespan of 70-120 years on earth where everyone is unhappy, Christians and non-believers alike, it would seem. Oh yes, if you follow your dreams, if you live out your bucket list, if you’re newlyweds, all is looking up, eh? Yes, until a debilitating accident or illness or divorce takes you out; and even if not, Time takes us all to the grave.
I can no longer say with confidence that following your bucket list is a good idea as a remedy for unhappiness. You can do all your dreamt-of activities and still feel continually empty, angsty, and fearful of dying. If I know there is no meaning to life, no purpose, does that free me somehow? No, it enslaves me nihilism or its more flirtatious cousin, hedonism. Again, what is left for us? If we agree that life is just a blank slate, and beauty is also a fleeting illusion, the question is, do we find anything worth doing? Do we take into account that we also have instincts? Does that mean that anything goes, as the old 20th Century song goes?
All I know is life is short. It’s short because it ends sooner or later, for better or for worse. What we believe doesn’t matter because even if we are wrong on our deathbeds, we’ll be dead soon anyway. We can take up Pascal’s Wager, yes. Or we can make sense of our lives and our need for validation our own way. I personally think that there is a spirit world and that faith and divine intervention is there. That is my journey anyway, for what it’s worth. I don’t know what yours is. I do think, though, that if you’re damaged from Church culture, stop going and start over on your core values with a minimal reserve of what you already know you believe in. Hard to do. It took me two decades. I take back the authority, my autonomy, believing only what I can experience and evaluate. I don’t take someone’s word for it.
Maybe that is it: Life experience, empirical and personal events and your interpretation of them that is unique to you, is the meaning you subscribe to. Maybe, at the end of the day, after overthinking it, all you have are, your five senses, your gut instinct, and the ability to speak intelligibly with grammar. We ask many questions for which there are no answers. One question may be, is all that’s mentioned about enough–five senses, the gut, and a the gift of language? The ability to choose among five red Bordeaux wines and describe why?
We all choose the response to our unfortunate and pain-filled lives. Whatever path you choose, choose the authentic life. Chase your bucket list or have a simple, child-like faith in your God. It’s up to you. The point is to make your time on earth meaningful to you.
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