As I go through the precious days until my 80th birthday, a little over 450 days from now, I think about the “Big Questions.” Why 80? Because for me I think the time is right to examine my life in terms of meaning. But you could do it at any age.
What’s it all about? This question pops into my consciousness quite often lately. The question triggers a whole raft of other questions:
Where did life come from?
Who am I?
Why am I here?
What is the purpose of life?
It also prompts you to think about your calendar of life.
The twenties: This is the peak period of youth. There are so many things you wanted to do, but the time went too fast.
The thirties: Some maturity is added to your youth. We try many things while the flame of youth still burns.
The forties: The prime of life. The fulfillment of career and family life, which is the fruition of life. Many of us would wish this period was endless, but it isn’t!
The fifties: We start thinking philosophically because we are reaping the benefit of wisdom that was not there earlier. It’s the pinnacle of your development.
The sixties: The golden years, time seems to be speeding past us. We enjoy not struggling so much and relaxing.
The seventies: There is a feeling of time slipping by. But we still have hope in our hearts for good times.
The eighties: The stage of life where you keep looking back at the past. It all goes so fast, you didn’t realize. Do people ever realize life while they are living it?
Quoting Python’s “Meaning of Life”: Are we just spiraling coils of self-replicating DNA?
Can some of the answer to our question be in looking at our origins?
From what we know the beginning started with the Big Bang, about 15 billion years ago, then single-cell life forms popped out of the sea, and through evolution came the emergence of Homo Sapiens about 500,000 years ago. As science has progressed and we know more and more about our beginnings, God has been written out of the picture and all the answers religion has given us are not relevant now. So, we have to figure out our own meaning. I was wondering…
Can’t we just live our lives in the present and that in itself is our purpose?
Or, maybe we should look to the future. Does life’s purpose rely on the achievement of future goals? But, when you get old, if you’re lucky, mortality becomes a problem because then there will come a time when we have NO future! Goals are great but once they’re reached we need new goals, or emptiness takes over! So maybe, life’s purpose is to continue creating goals to live forward to, until the end.
If we live in the present moment and life’s purpose relies on living in these moments, then in the end, life’s purpose must slip away. Our attitudes toward our mortality are important to our sense of well-being.
My friend tells me, from his barstool: “We must seize the day to really live fully.”
He says: “Party on.”
With that we both ordered another beer. My friend continued: “The facts are simple, Dave, we are mortal, we are trapped in the present and we could die at any time. So, seize the day, why sit around agonizing over the meaning of life, you’re using up your moments!!!”
I left my friend, as he ordered another beer, and I walked out into the sunshine.
I thought: “What a wonderful thing “barstool wisdom” is.”
Then I remembered some of the wonderful moments I’ve had in my life and how fleeting they were. These moments made you feel ALIVE! But seize the day philosophy can be bittersweet, when you think of the joy of the moment and the pain of it passing.
Whatever we value in life, relationships, hugging your partner, creativity, learning, a good meal, should not be put off, we have to make everyday count. The great wisdom of carpe diem is that life is fleeting and we should not squander it.
Another friend of mine, who doesn’t drink, said:
“I don’t think about meaning, I just LIVE. I’m happy and I don’t ponder “Big Questions.” I must be doing something right.”
What I think he meant was he is content to do what he does and this is enough to make his life meaningful. Sometimes thinking too much about “Big Questions” can be a stumbling block to making life meaningful.
But, for myself, I can’t avoid thinking about “What’s it all about?” Thinking it through seems, to me, therapeutic, even if I don’t come to a final answer.
Thinking about the “Big Questions” helps me to have the power to find and determine my meaning. Which in turn makes me feel good. Each of us are different and we have to make many choices in life that only we can make to construct a worthwhile life.
NO ONE FINDS LIFE WORTH LIVING; ONE MUST MAKE IT WORTH LIVING!
Also published on Medium.