"I thought I was going to die in an earthquake and it was terrifying especially since I had my child with me and contemplated how to ease his death as I faced my own. But as I age and see the end rushing at me, I am training myself to accept it. Sort of. Maybe I am hoping that by the time it comes, I am more at peace with it than the younger me.
I don’t think of meaning and happiness. Life has no meaning and searching for it is silly. We should spend our time reducing suffering of others we share this planet with, both people and animals. If we can, we should make the world less harsh, and encourage exploration and science because we are a curious people. Happiness comes and goes and we know what makes us happy and if we can, we should do those things. There is no value in misery.
Death does not give me meaning. That makes no sense to me. This frantic search for meaning leaves me cold. The reframing of religion as spiritual, does likewise. There is no god, there is no meaning. And yet, I reach out to people all the time to try and help reduce their pain. I am compelled to do so. People tell me my life is meaningful. No, my acts have meaning for those I help, and while that is good, it does not mean I have a meaningful life. I am alive and that is what is important. And then I will be dead. And that will be that. Nothing is “allotted” to us. That assumes an “allotor” which isn’t the case. It’s hard to accept at first that this is all there is, and the only meaning is what you make, but once you do, it’s liberating. I’ve really enjoyed this journey. It’s been great to be here and I hope the end is peaceful and wanted when it comes, but don’t we all."
There is much to like in this brief piece, specifically the ease with which the writer conveys the fundamental simplicity of the absurd. Searching for meaning? Silly. But helping others? Good. Not because it has "meaning," but simply because it is the human thing to do.
At its core, the absurd (at least to us) is simply a method for living a peaceful, contented life. The fact that it is also a very consistent belief system is nice, but more of a side benefit. A few months back we read a piece in the Atlantic titled "What Makes Us Happy." It was about a group of people researchers tracked from college through the rest of their lives, with the goal of figuring out what made some people happier than others. The author seemed a bit nonplussed at the results, as if there were no consistent thread, but to us it was simple. As an individual described as "the study's exemplar" put it: "I have an overriding sense (or philosophy) that it’s all a big nothing—or ‘chasing after wind’ as it says in Ecclesiastes and therefore, at least up to the present, nothing has caused me too much grief.”
Live simply, be content with what you have, and be nice to others. And...have a nice weekend!