Meaning is like air to us. Without it we die. With it we soar like eagles.
I just read this morning an author state that the universe doesn’t care about you or anything that happens on our planet or anywhere else. And that the only meaning we can conjure up in this cold hard world is from ourselves. We make meaning. And that’s true. We do. The meaning we have is that which we’ve made for ourselves, our pain, our joys, our mundanity.
But, just because we do something doesn’t mean that’s the way it should be. Fabricating our own meaning seems empty. It’s not weighty enough to carry one of life’s heaviest questions. Making your own meaning just doesn’t have enough oomph. And I think if I continued to craft my own meaning, it would make me feel like a fraud. Fake. If we’re honest with ourselves, we make things up all of the time to make ourselves feel better. If we can deceive ourselves in all other parts of our lives, why not here?
I believe there is true meaning and we must seek it.
In high school, I set out to find it. After discussions about existentialism and how authors like Faulkner, Hemingway, and Fitzgerald displayed, in their deliciously crafted words, the sad idea that the world is devoid of meaning, I had to seek the truth. A meaningless world sounded absurd to me. So I searched. And I didn’t go far; I started by looking around.
Surrounding me were people who lived as if life was full of meaning. I saw students burying their noses into books and feverishly taking notes to get that A+; teachers stood in front of the classroom, teaching their hearts out to students even if some of them drooled on their desks; neighbors meticulously grooming their well-manicured lawns like it was Busch Stadium. Nobody got out of bed, thinking, “Awesome, let’s get to work because it’s meaningless.”
But getting good grades, looking presentable to (and better than) the Jones, and not even transferring knowledge to the next generation (of drooling kids ) is enough meaning to satisfy the deepest desires of our hearts. We want firm ground—truth.
But that is so hard to get at, especially in our world. There are so many people who claim to know what’s true. Some say that there is no truth (which is a truth statement). Others say that everyone’s right (but that’s impossible). Jesus says that he is the Truth. That author says that the universe doesn’t care. This author is saying that God does. It’s so confusing.
And in that confusion, many of us may not bother ourselves with the reason we exist. We distract ourselves with our newsfeed, or think there might be some kind of meaning out there but will look for it after binge-watching a great show on Netflix or, as the author I quoted said, fill our own lives with the meaning we find meaningful. That’s how we get ourselves out of bed.
Or, we might even think, “Why bother?” with such a difficult question. But it’s the biggest question we can ask. Can you think of anything greater than the meaning of life? It’s one of the main reasons why so many of us are struggling, depressed, hurting. We are literally dying because we don’t know that there is a real reason to live.
When I was in high school, I wasn’t satisfied with the answer that the world doesn’t have meaning. I wanted to know the true meaning to life. I looked at all of the religions, studied philosophies, made my own observations, and I found that there is meaning and found the notion that a cosmic entity who doesn’t care wrong. The universe or God does care. He loves us.
Look around. Yes, there is evil. Yes, there is unbelievable pain and stupidity that happens around us and in us that must make alien life forms laugh and weep for us, simultaneously. But there is beauty. Radiant, luscious, gorgeous beauty surrounds us. And goodness, everything we have is good, even the ugliest things. Look at some of those Pug dogs. Ugly as sin but so good.
Love happens. In the direst of times strangers love and help each other. Friends, neighbors, families, colleagues trust and care for one another. Sometimes they even sacrifice for the other.
My friend’s kidneys stopped working, and he needed a transplant because he was born with diabetes and also lived several years of his young adult life with reckless abandon, drinking and abusing his body with enough substances that would kill several small animals; but his sister volunteered to give him her kidney. To make a bad situation worse, the surgery for her was much more dangerous and painful than for him. But she did it anyway. That’s love.
It’s easy to allow the darkness to eclipse the light in the world. And although it may feel like that at times, if night truly did swallow up the day, we would be in far worse shape than we are now. The light is easy to take for granted because it’s everywhere. The very fact that we love, experience good, feel the sun’s warmth, and seek meaning means something.
That’s how we were designed. The world we live in was created good. And whenever something is fashioned, it’s done with and for a purpose—meaning.
Stating that the “Universe doesn’t care,” and then following that up with “Make your own meaning” doesn’t work. Ok, it’s a way to survive. It’s a way to limp along and stay alive. But I think we are made for so much more.
We’re made to soar.
These next several weeks I’m going to explore this subject. If you have any questions or thoughts you want me to tackle, please send them along.
In the meantime, lots of love to you.