While watching the Monty Python film, “The Meaning of Life”, I thought how Python humor reduces our traditional positions and arguments to absurdity. It makes us understand how things can get out of hand. For example- In the film we see the glorifying of expensive equipment in the hospital labor room, with a machine that goes “ping”. The doctors love the machine that goes “ping”. This equipment is more valuable than the humans, mother and child. Or take our excessive attention to Growth and Learning in society, this can lead to deadening the spirit of youngsters. Or take the corporate greed that abounds now days, in the skit oppressed workers transform their building into a battleship fighting the big office structures and their inhabitants. It’s Python humor but in many ways it’s true.
The Meaning of Life film brings out the extreme and dangerous DISTRACTIONS that dehumanize us, such as religious ideology, class distinction, science, medicine, technology, education and corporate greed. These distractions take away our happiness and also, it separates us from our fellow humans.
At the end of the film a lady opens an envelope and reads:
“Here’s the Meaning of Life. It’s nothing complex or special. Be nice to people, eat sensibly, read a good book now and then, take a daily short walk and try to live together in peace and harmony with people of all creeds and nations.”
Simple, isn’t it?
Once we rid ourselves of piety and dogma then matters of meaning become more pragmatic and demystified.
Humans must create their meaning through a process of self-observation and the enemy of this process is DISTRACTION. To get rid of distraction you have to focus your mind and senses in the present moment, and resist the tendency to wander off into the past or future.
We can humanize ourselves again by taking our heads out of the clouds so we will be better able to know ourselves and make our own meaning.
Remember, Existence precedes Essence, which means we exist first and then we determine our essence (goals and purpose).
We must enjoy being here (in the present) NOW.
At the beginning of the film, there were some fish swimming in a tank. They were taking note of their fellow fish, which were being eaten outside of the tank. They wanted to know what life was all about. It seemed that they had missed the point. Have we, humans, also missed the point?
It has been said, to understand life you must also understand death. That, after all is said and done, is where your life inevitably leads.
Socrates pointed out that the art of living is learning how to die. In other words, knowing that death is coming should motivate us to live a fuller and better life in the meantime.
The laughter we get from the Python’s zany and irreverent humor can liberate us. Laughter frees us from piety and dogma, so we are free to question and think for ourselves.
So, we arrive at one question: What does life mean? In my mind, the meaning is what you make of your life, it’s a journey toward our realistic hopes, reflecting what we know and ought to be doing with our life. When we realize this, we can laugh and be free of the fetters of distraction.
I will leave you with two quips about laughter:
Laughter is the shock absorber that eases the blows of life.
If the world laughs at you, laugh right back because it’s as funny as you are.
Also published on Medium.