Monday, September 5, 2011

Is There Meaning In Life?

A friend of mine named Ted who I have written about is reading a book I told him about, "The Elegance of the Hedgehog" by Muriel Barbery. He is a smarty pants and is reading it in the original French.  He was in New York City and bought it in a bookstore that specializes in books in French.  I finished the book last night to my sorrow for I did not want that book to end.  I loved it.  Ted is still reading it.

He gave me a call this morning to asked me a question that the book asks:" is there meaning in life?"  That stumped me.  I had to admit that life has meaning for me but whether or not it has for other people I don't know.  I had never given it a thought.  I used to believe the stuff professors in the universities I attended  taught that there was no meaning in life and that anyone who thought so was deluded. Later,  I discovered that for me there were plenty of meaning.  I guess I got so turned off by the professors that I became reluctant to ascribe meaning to anyone life. Ted agreed for he said he found meaning in his life through the 12-step program and had been told by many "New Atheists" that what he was seeing as God and meaning was illusions. He said if they want to see God as an illusion in their life they are certainly free to do so but he is equally free to see God and meaning in his life.

On the other hand, Ted says, when he has book signings, he has to contend also with Fundamental Christians who feel he has the concept of God and the meaning he puts into his life all wrong.  He has been picketed several times by some who are angry that he feels no shame for being who he is and that is gay.  But getting back to the subject does life have meaning or does it have meaning if we want it to have meaning?  I mean is it an option?  Neither one of us knew.  Again, both of us are very reluctant to ascribe a certain kind of reality to others that we find works for us.  Can life be different for each of us?  Can it have meaning for those who want it to have it and not for those who don't?  I found that the godless stark black and white reality of some people's vision just did not exist for me.  I find life to be very beautiful even during the worst of times.  I have had people who threatened me with anger and wanted to knock off my "rosy sunglasses" off.  Goodness.

Sometimes, I write these posts and conclude at the end that this is my answer,but I don't have one except each of us have to find their own answers and not jam something down someone's throats. Ted said that is true.  It took him a long time to find his joy and peace and he is happy that he stopped looking in a bottle or some other chemical high.  Life is good these days, he concluded.  That is not to say that he doesn't have those down days, he said.  When he does, he gives himself permission to be sad and then finds out why and then goes on to something else.  The last time he was sad was when he found out he was going bald a lot faster than he expected.  He is one of those people, he said, that does not look all that great bald. Not everyone looks like Patrick Stewart. Then he had to look further and find that he was really sad because he was growing older and that someday he will die.  That really shook him up.  Then he said he had a great espresso at some coffee shop and met a friend there and went on with his life. The meaning of life is a great espresso.  For me, it is watching autumn come in the trees from the window as I sit in my recliner in my living room.  It's different for everyone. 

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