meaningless?

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Have you ever felt there’s a lack of meaning in the world? That life itself is meaningless, despite our human attempts to give it heft?

I do. I look at all the trash building up, filling all our landfills (until I wonder if we’ll just be living on landfill)…and I hear that the Northwest Passage might not be usable as a shipping lane because of global warming…and I hear MTV in the background (the VMAs are on) and I look at all of them, at all the jet fuel they use to get there and all the hours they spend on appearance, and the stupid parties they’ll all attend, and how meaningless it is…and then I think of all the mean cruel people in the world, of dictators and drug lords…oh shit, people don’t even have to be cruel to be bad to the world!

I think about how people don’t TRY, and how people just consume without thought and without consideration and don’t stretch themselves, and how they are just on apathetic autopilot, sucking up all the oxygen in the atmosphere…and I then think, “Man, maybe it’s a good thing I don’t have children, because I would be up every night wondering what kind of world we’re leaving behind to them.”

I look at a blank page and write and then I think, “What good is this?” What good is writing a few words down–will it save the world at all?

And then I think about my life, stretching itself before me. What meaning will it have?

Ugh. These are Saturday night thoughts in my life.

Ugh.  Didn’t I have these thoughts twenty years ago, in high school?  And somehow, I struggled onward to live two more decades.

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6 Comments

Filed under Life, Miscellaneous

6 responses to “meaningless?

  1. Andrew

    One suggestion, though it may not comfort you:

    Worrying about it doesn’t help! Even if you feel bad you aren’t doing enough, even if you want to do more, just sitting there and worrying about it all is a no-op (as the hep programmers say).

    You might as well just watch TV, or read a book, or daydream.

    Because they’ll do exactly as much good as worrying about it, and you’ll feel better!

    You could also do something concrete: contribute to candidates who will fight to combat global warming, recycle, plan ways to drive less, etc. Those are important too.

    But even if you do none of them, if you read the Wikipedia article about ferrets ten times in a row, you should feel no guilt, because that will be just as helpful as sitting there worrying.

  2. This post reminds me so much of Solomon’s words in Ecclesiastes, “Vaniety of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanties! All is vanity. What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun?”

    Through the years, I have thought the same. What is so important in this life that will leave any impression worthwhile? In other words, how does my existence make a positive difference because if it doesn’t, then is everything “vanity”?

    It also seems to me that I am more likely to think these thoughts when alone. It is a re-evaluation or prioritiztion of what is important and unfortunately it seems to happen most when I am forced to view my own mortality. As hard as it is to have these thoughts, I do think at some level, it is normal and healthy – still not easy or always pleasant but then what struggle is worthwhile that isn’t?

  3. i think life is as meaningful as we make it. for every drug lord, etc. there is a good person making sacrifices to help other people, to stop global warming, etc. that’ sall i can write right now …

    this post also reminds me of the Magnetic Fields song, “Meaningless.”

  4. Sometimes, just sometimes, I think these things. I try not to. But when the thoughts hit they are so demoralizing. Most often, I guess I’m really naive, I feel like there are little hints of meaning everywhere. It has nothing to do with religion or anything because I am nonreligious. The meaning feels very personal; I assume things mean entirely other things to everyone else. Then I get the doubt, wondering if I’m making it all up. I think I might be.

  5. j

    I have no idea who you are – I came across your posting by complete accident. Nonetheless, I have to say, your problem sounds very familiar. As someone with a tendency towards ‘frank’ contemplation … (read: pessimism?) … these thoughts have gone through my head on a daily basis for years.

    An idea I’ve been wrestling with lately, though, is that it’s the very concepts we use to label the world around us that shape our experience of them.

    ‘Goodness’ and ‘purity’ and such don’t exist outside of each of our own minds. They are as imaginary, as real, as ‘toothfairy’ or ‘martian’. They are simply inaccurate ways our human brain tries to make sense of the world around it. The ‘problem’ stems from our tendencies to perceive the world in a certain way, rather than with the world itself. (Without a human to imagine a situation as ‘problematic’, the world ‘problematic’ does not apply).

    Ultimately, I think, we are all just components of the simplest idea in the universe: one. We then go about spending 99.99% of our time trying to reconcile the fact that we experience things as individuals, yet are part and parcel of a whole. The whole.

    This can be daunting, but it is also where everything ‘beautiful’ ultimately derives its meaning.

  6. Eve

    How strange. But first, to answer your question, yes. Yes, I do. I do think about meaning and meaninglessness. I was going to blog about it about an hour ago, but… it seemed meaningless. Hah.

    As for children, I’m reading Augustine and from all I can see, almost 2000 years ago, people were the same as they are now. The world isn’t as much a problem for people; it’s people who will be a problem for the world. Y’know?

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