[Phil N. Blanks, had only recently, retired from his (“disappointing”) career as a (“bored”) Court clerk, and lived alone, since his contentious wife, Hortense, left him, after eight and one-half months of marriage,(for a bald, mustached, tenor- saxophone player from Hoboken. Getting out of bed, one rainy Monday, he happened to recall an exotic article that he read in his local barbershop, entitled: “Uncovering the Meaning of Life.” The subject article, as he recalled, concerned a certain, Nepalese Guru, who, reportedly, after seven years of dedicated fasting and silent meditation, was successful in the discovery of life’s ultimate, “meaning.” Phil hoped that the receipt of such a fundamental revelation from the holy man might afford him some objective and mature insight, into his present, grim existence.
To condense the ensuing facts, Phil, at substantial monetary expense, great physical effort (flight to Nepal, transport by a bouncy, water buffalo-drawn cart to the crest of the mountain, the site of the guru’s residential cave) at last, arrived at the Guru’s dark cave and, as instructed on a posted, multi-lingual notice, deposited the requested, monetary donation in an empty jar (still containing a tattered, commercial label, “mango chutney”). After a period of silence, a bearded and wizened, the elderly guru, dressed in a yellow-stained toga and a green turban, asked: “What can we do for you, young man?
Phil, in nervous anticipation of an ancient, metaphysical, reply, inquired, in a respectfully, submissive tone: “Holy Sir, what is Life?” The Guru, after a brief, period of deep inner contemplation, with closed eyes, and in chanting meter, intoned the answer; “Life, my son is a river.” Phil, confused, respectfully, but diffidently, inquired: “What do you mean, by the words, “a River”? The Guru, suddenly, shocked, and in a sudden state of panic and high anxiety, shakily, responded: “You mean it isn’t?”]
Having accumulated sufficient years to inarguably, qualify for the category of elder citizen, we feel qualified to assert certain contextually, relevant, points. It has been our observation that, in his later years, there often occurs in Man, a useless, but, irrepressible, inclination to inquire of himself, the metaphysical question: “What is the meaning (or, purpose) of life?” It is the uselessness and irrationality of this latter experience that provides the theme and context of this writing. As will be maintained below, the extent of utility of such inquiries is, at most, limited to their occasional use as an expression or release, of temporal frustration or disappointment.
To empirically, conclude that any of our Planet’s fauna (including Homo sapiens) or flora, is alive (has life) is simply to have made the determination that they are “self-functioning,” i.e. ingesting, voiding, growing, procreating. To have life (to be “living”) is, relevantly, to be self-functioning. The growing blade of grass has life, the mechanical lawnmower does not. A horsefly, a goldfinch, a snake, a bobcat, a deer all have life until they cease functioning.
Life, itself, is a unique, singular and fortuitous, phenomenon, one that, is a mechanical-chemical-biological matter; it is nature’s grant of a fortuitous franchise, for fauna and fauna, to enjoy the privilege of function within the parameters of their innate capability and environment. Can one rationally, declare that the life of the horsefly, goldfinch, snake, bobcat and deer have any “purpose,” or “meaning,” other than to live? Competing species, in nature, strive solely, to live and procreate, Disney Studios or the Hallmark Card Co., notwithstanding.
Nature’s singular, and priceless grant of the franchise of life, itself, is procedural, i.e. it simply and fortuitously, provides the arena, for sentient beings, i.e., Mankind, to possess the opportunity, or elective choice, if desired, to seek substantive, personal meaning and purpose. It does not carry with it, ancillary purpose or meaning; the latter qualities may be developed in the potential of the individual of the human species, himself, to derive meaning, and exploit opportunities, in his own life, or to refrain from doing so. There is no program, or implicit motive, ancillary to the acquisition of the natural franchise, to live, and, when deemed appropriate, to elect to, or refrain from, living a (chosen), rational and meaningful life.
For the five years of its existence, this blog space has been, primarily, focused on, and dedicated to, the advancement of meaningful life and has attempted to extol, among other things, an elective interest in reading good books, appreciation of the arts and sciences, and the pursuit of individual, outside interests, and their resultant, progress toward mature understanding and acceptance of one’s inner self, the exotic potpourri of other human inhabitants of the Planet, and, hopefully, to the attainment of the ultimately, meaningful, goal of wisdom.