The Meaning of Life - May 2017

So, what is the meaning of life?  Well, you’re in luck, cause I recently figured it out and I’m going to tell you in this blog!  But first, let’s get a snack.  No seriously – I’m hungry.  And I know you are too.  I had peanut butter this morning, and gosh, it was delicious.  I had enough time to just sit there and eat each bite and savor the sticky, salty goodness.  That was nice – and heck, if it were my last meal, I think I’d be satisfied.  Then of course I needed to wash up a bit, so let’s take a little detour there.  Lately I’ve been trying to pay attention when I brush my teeth.  Ever try this?  It seems so mundane, but it actually feels kind of nice.  Just standing there brushing my teeth.  And then feeling the smoothness.  Sometimes…. I even try to floss.

Okay, so let’s get on with it – we’ve got things to do today!  Things to cross off the list and accomplish and produce and make happen!  We don’t have time to read about eating peanut butter and brushing teeth.  Sorry, yes, I’ll move it along.  Because sometimes it does feel just as good to make a list of the little things you need to do, and then cross them off.  That feeling at the end of the day, if you accomplished even a few, is nice.  You’ve “earned” a nice zone-out in front of the TV, on the couch, doing nothing.  Yes, that feels delicious too.  Just allowing your brain to turn off, and other people to entertain you.

Or the other night, I didn’t even turn the TV on.  It was raining, and I got sucked in.  The sound of the lightly tapping droplets, the smell of dirt and a soft breeze.  I noticed that itch to check my phone and “think” about something (I don’t even know what!  Just the lure of “thinking” about – anything!).  It passed and I didn’t think. 

But then I got annoyed.  I had to go outside, and it was raining.  I had to slog through the world and wrestle a space among the other people, on the sidewalk, on the train, on the road in my car.  All of us jostling against each other like worker ants crawling the same worn paths, or salmon wildly, blindly swimming against the stream.  I felt annoyed.  Not so special, and life clunky and cumbersome.

But then I arrived and promptly forgot about all of that.  Because my office faces a playground where herds of kids have recess many, many times a day.  They’re like little, cute animals running in circles and screaming and falling off the swing but bounding up immediately, like nothing happened!  They just bounce around and off each other and have a grand old, chaotic, time.  And most of the time hearing their din makes me relax and remember what it might be like to be completely unfettered by things like bills and making dinner.  I bet sometimes some of them get annoyed when they have to go inside and learn math.  But then there’s another recess in a little while anyway, so whatever!

Ok, so back to the meaning of life – sorry, got distracted again!  This happens to me a lot when I’m pondering the meaning of life.  No, I don’t even mean that to be funny.  It’s true.  I’ll have a moment where everything feels empty and I’ll wonder, “So what is the point, really?”  I can feel the tug of existential angst, and self-pity, and deep sadness or loneliness or just plain old agitation. I’ll start to sink in.  And then, invariably, something will happen.  Like the toaster will “ding!” Or a siren will go squealing by.  And I’ll forget entirely what I was thinking about.

So lately, that’s been my answer to this question – the ordinary is also the sacred.  Nothing is really special, and everything is very special.  The peanut butter is the same as the filet mignon.  The playground is the same as the traffic.  The stranger’s smile is the same as the lover’s touch.  I know at some levels these things are not the same. But that fragmentation and division and comparison and then desire for “better” or “more” or “special” or “superior” hurts.  So maybe the meaning of life is the same as the meaninglessness of life, and that whole, pure diving in to everything is just plain good enough.