This I Believe

Joel - Huntsville, Alabama
Entered on October 24, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: courage, work

This I believe: I believe that attempting to explain the meaning of life at the age of eighteen is possibly one of the most ludicrous and narcissistic feats that a man can attempt.

We are humans, a sentient species that lives on a planet we call Earth. We have accomplished many feats of innovation, socialization, and beauty; however, even though we might be able to vaguely control our outcomes, we know actually very little of our pasts that isn’t shrouded in religious contexts or that hasn’t been destroyed by wars and age. No one knows for certain why we are here, however, the majority of us subscribe to a certain set of beliefs that involve where we came from and eventually, where we go when we die.

Everyone has expectations of life; some are more or less trivial than others. One of the most important things that we learn in life is that not all of our expectations of it are always fulfilled. Whether that means we don’t get the newest ‘in’ product or we don’t have food, we have still cast our expectations into a chaotic world where things don’t always go your way.

The paradox of meaning is that we typically either place all of our faith in a god who promises to answer our big questions with more questions and promise an afterlife at the expense of us following some rules or conclude that life is meaningless. Either way, we seem to be at a dead end.

If life is, in fact, meaningless, what does that mean?

• When you die, do you cease to exist entirely?

• If the world is in fact as old as science suggests, does the individual have any significance in the scope of history?

• In twenty thousand years, will I be remembered? What about someone famous like Jennifer Anniston or William Shakespeare? Or will we be to them what ancient history is to us today?

• In that case, is there any importance to life?

• In the big picture, is the life of the individual even worth living?

In this sense, I believe that life is not about significance. It is about survival. In order to not confine oneself either in blind fear of not partaking in an afterlife or in a sense of meaninglessness, one must worry less about what happens after life and more about what is happening in life that they are missing.