Monday, June 28, 2010
So, here I am again. I am back in Johannesburg (and have been for some time now) and pondering the meaning of my existence. Quite a pesky question, this one. Comedy group Monty Python's promisingly titled "The Meaning of Life", although crammed full of inappropriate laughs, is a major disappointment when it comes to answering life's most intriguing and badly addressed question... of all time.
Of Platoism, Aristotelianism, Cynicism, Cyrenaicism, Epicureanism, Stoicism, Enlightenment philosophy, Classical liberalism, Kantianism, Utilitarianism, Nihilism, Pragmatism, Existentialism, Absurdism, Secular humanism, Logical positivism, Postmodernism, Instinctivism, Social Darwinism and Evolutionary Psychology, Naturalistic pantheism, Western and Middle Eastern religions, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Bahá'í Faith, Advaita and Dvaita Hinduism, Vaishnavism, Jainism, Shinto, Taoism, Confucianism and other religious and philosophical ideas I do not claim to know much. Heck, I don't know what the hell I just said.
Here is my perspective.
Yesterday, while we were getting into the car, my mom said something interesting. "Accomplishment," she said, "is the best feeling in the world". I thought about this. Yes, that morning I had written two articles for Activate and was feeling quite good about myself, but was this the meaning of life? Was this what I had to strive for in life? I had a sudden flash of myself in ten years, a desperate workaholic, pushing away family, friends, and loved ones with my frantic and panicked searches for meaning in yet another pay raise, yet another successful article written. No... This wasn't it for me.
Many people find the begin-all and end-all of their wishes, expectations, ideals and dreams for themselves and their loved ones in a religion. No matter the religion, you will find many mindless followers trawling in its destructive wake. Some of the worst world atrocities have been committed (and continue to be committed) in the name of a deity, a belief, or a way of life. In Marie Claire, a fashion magazine in South Africa, I read about a girl who had attended an innocent get-together at a friend's house for her sixteenth birthday wearing a mini-skirt. Instead of receiving presents, or birthday cards, she was arrested and given 40 lashings by a government-funded group that enforced Islamic morality in Iran. Religion, no matter how mildly applied, has never brought peace or understanding to my life. Accepting complete responsibility, with a helpful dash of Occam's Razor*, has lead me to live a life independent of spiritual or religious dependency. Although I do not condemn it in the lives of others, this is not my calling either.
After doing a lot of thinking, I have come to two things I value highly in my life. Relationships with people I respect and learn from, and learning in itself. Meeting people I have something in common with or whom I admire and desire to learn from is the most exciting thing I could ever imagine. Spending time with Benjamin has proven this theory time and time again. He has never stopped fascinating and teaching me in the time we have been together. Together, we share experiences, thoughts, information, knowledge, feelings and emotions. I never, ever want to stop.
This is what I think about the meaning of life right now.
That's about it. Now I will go back to waiting in a nail-bitingly stressful haze for Marie Claire to reply to my e-mails and (hopefully) accept me as a baby intern for a week at their beautiful magazine.
*entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem