“The only absolute knowledge attainable by man is that life is meaningless” – Tolstoy
As soon as I entered the cab park I knew something was out of place. When I took my seat in the cab being loaded I realised what it was. He wasn’t there; the man who was there every hour of the day, all hours of the week, the limping beggar. I wondered why, maybe he was ill. And then I saw him. He was crouched beneath a shade, his fingers coated with oil, hurriedly consuming his lunch. Perhaps it was seeing him fulfil that raw primal need with such urgency and in that posture that got me thinking. I realised just how similar we both were, this beggar and me. He was here all day every day. I left home every day too. While some saw him simply as someone benefitting from the goodwill of others, I saw him as more. He was actually seeking a living. And if he didn’t come out here every day, hoping for goodwill from others, maybe he would die. And the cruel, unconcerned institution called life would carry on as if nothing had changed.
And really that is what we all do. Why do we leave the comfort of our homes every day to “work”? Why do we spend so many years in school learning things that we have nearly no practical use for in daily life? Why do we struggle and toil despite the discomfort? It makes no sense. One might argue that one’s reason for studying or working is to add value to life, but what value and to whom? Whether we add “value” to life or not, nature’s ruthless cycle continues, unaware of humans’ toils. We live and we die, it is nature’s law. Of what use then is toiling so hard when the only purpose it achieves is delaying the time of death?
Even though at the surface level, it makes sense to believe that life has no meaning, this poses a problem. If life has no meaning, how are we different from animals? Is our purpose solely to perpetuate our species? Is our ability to manipulate our environments to such a great degree merely a fact that has no consequence? I believe not. There must be meaning somewhere, and perhaps seeking this meaning is the single most pressing need in a human’s life.
Throughout history, humans have sought respite in various concepts and philosophies. From love to hope and religion, humans have given themselves reasons to survive and thrive. Finding meaning despite the mundane appearance of life is what makes sense above all. A life without meaning is probably not worth living at all. Seeking a meaning to life is toil on its own, a toil of a different kind. It might take months, it might take years, it might even take a lifetime, but when it is finally found, there will be a spring in your step and joy in your heart. It will no longer matter what you do in life or who you become. What will matter is fulfilling your purpose according to your life’s meaning. And so if you want to live, to truly live, find your meaning.