“The mystery of human existence lies not in just staying alive but in finding something to live for”.  – Dostoyevsky

A week ago I thought about writing on the lofty topic that is ‘The Meaning of Life’. The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections quickly pointed out to me I’ve written on this topic before – about a half a dozen of times. They suggested I write about something else – ball bearings perhaps. I capitulated as I like all twenty toes. Spo-fans got wind of this and began howling like an orchestra of scorched cats, demanding that I do so. When these two forces move in conflict, I usually choose the latter and keep my boots on.  Spo

As we age and encounter matters of Life we lose faith in ourselves and others. Injustice, ignorance, pain, and death are everywhere and feel insurmountable. Life feels meaningless. We desire meaning yet we face there is none. Albert Camus called this The Absurd: wanting meaning in a meaningless world

The sad fact about Life, the Universe, and Everything is not that they are hostile, but that they are indifferent. The recognition of this axiom forces us into 5-6 outcomes. 

Denial. We look to religion to provide meaning. A god or gods and their religious structure provide us with explanations and meaning. My cousin is devout in her religions and answers all questions of doubt with dogma. If questioned, it evokes quick great wroth; it shakes her to the foundation.

Distraction. Sometime called ‘manic defense”, people throw themselves into activity and past times to keep busy. This option is exhausting: if they should stop they become in touch with the meaningless and in the end it seldom works. 

Suicide. Life with no meaning often leads to suicide.

Creativity. People become artists, actors, and politicians to make something meaningful for themselves and their fellow man. 

Then there is something Camus, Beckett, and pals suggest is better and the right way:

Acceptance. To accept that Life ultimately has no meaning is a paradox. By doing so, we are free to make our own meaning. This approach faces the truth without succumbing to delusions, distractions, or despair. Back to Mr. Camus, he saw acceptance not as passive helplessness but as an act of resistance: to look directly at the meaningless of the universe and make it so. You live Life well, knowing full well it is meaningless. ‘One must imagine Sisyphus as happy at his task.’ he wrote.

In the play “Waiting for Godot” there is a character with the ironical name of “Lucky”. He is the Absurd Hero. His life is meaningless but he returns to it. At the end of the play, he is the one who does not fall to pieces or keep false hopes as the other do.

Mind! Acceptance does NOT evoke sadness but wards off the depression that comes from doing otherwise. 

“Those who have a ‘why’ to live can bear with almost any ‘how.’”

Mr. Frankl wrote this in his book “Man’s search for meaning”. He describes how he survived being a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp. In his memoir he writes he managed because he felt his life had purpose. 

In the end we are going to die and what we do along the way is up to us.  It is up to the individual to live the life of the universe in one short life.

There you have it. 

Tune in tomorrow for a digit count.