We are craving for a purpose, a meaning, a worthwhile reason for living. Right before sleeping, during the day having nothing to do, in the midst of bad events being depressed – that’s when we question the point of living. This question has neither single nor a precise answer. But does it have to have only one and precise answer for it to make sense?
Everything depends on the individual human being, regardless of how small a number of like-minded people there are, and everything depends on each person, through action and not mere words, creatively making the meaning of life a reality in his or her own being.
The limit of human life span, the scarcity of experiences we can get, the amount of hugs we can give to our beloved ones, number of countries we can visit, volume of books we can read, total of arts we can create – this scarcity gives the value to our lives.
The fact, and only the fact, that we are mortal, that our lives are finite, that our time is restricted and our possibilities are limited, this fact is what makes it meaningful to do something, to exploit a possibility and make it become a reality, to fulfill it, to use our time and occupy it. Death gives us a compulsion to do so. Therefore, death forms the background against which our act of being becomes a responsibility.
Life is random and unpredictable. It does not act on our wishes and expectations. Human beings are just a small fraction of a massive universe. We should just understand that we are not the ones to question the life. There is a law nature that plays its role, and we are part of this movement.
It did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us. We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life, and instead to think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life—daily and hourly. Our answer must consist, not in talk and meditation, but in right action and in right conduct. Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual.
If we are not able to change the life, what we can do is to change our attitude towards life. Nietzsche put forward that “Whoever has a why to live can bear almost any how.” If we are able to create a meaning for our lives, then there is nothing that can scare us.
Living itself means nothing other than being questioned; our whole act of being is nothing more than responding to — of being responsible toward — life. With this mental standpoint nothing can scare us anymore, no future, no apparent lack of a future. Because now the present is everything as it holds the eternally new question of life for us.
Since the “meaning” of life is created in our minds, the following assumptions might hold true:
- every individual has a distinct meaning of his/her life.
- anything can be turned into a living purpose.
- A meaning can be obsolete at one point in time or replaced by another meaning
- One can have multiple meanings
One caveat worth to mention is that humans are mostly looking for pleasure & joy in life. If this pleasure-seeking becomes the meaning, it is very probable that an eventual disappointment is soon to happen. Joy should be a spontaneous byproduct of living, not the meaning of life, as is suffering. We should use these byproducts as means to reflecting on the point of living.
If you’d like to read more on the opinions about meaning of life, I’d highly recommend the books of Viktor E. Frankl (i.e. Man’s Search for Meaning, Yes to Life: In Spite of Everything).
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