Meaninglessness and Meaningfulness

 It is hard to imagine what the individual sum of actions in your life add up to. You might be able to point out to certain actions that changed a situation for another, but in the overall scheme of things, it’s hard to see any meaning in that change.

We can begin from the most classic example. What do years of a life spent in an office working for something add up to? Taking the same train, sitting on the same desk, coordinating and organizing the same kind of work to effect one thing or the other- the lack of which wouldn’t have changed the world in any significance of manner anyway. What do years of a life add up to except nothingness?

One might say love, and that is a fair answer, so here I invoke something my father related to me. As a young boy, my father was very close to his own grandfather. They would often go to the movies together, and the movies being new at the time, it was a truly special time spent together. Every day when they met after school, my father would jump and delight at the thought of spending time with his grandfather and that went on for most of his childhood and teenage, until he moved out to study in Bangalore. My father’s grandfather lived up to ninety-three, and finally died when my father must have been about thirty-five.

Let alone grieve, my father said, I didn’t think about my grandfather for a single day after he died. It was not due to any special heartlessness of my father- it was merely the fact of life which came in between. When he returned from Bangalore, he was about twenty-five, started work, got married, had his own kids within a year, and life had changed tremendously from the time he used to beg his grandfather to take him to the movies. The love was had been there, but what did it add up to?

Similar, if not the same, happens to most relationships of our life. No matter how close and irreplaceable some people might feel to us, everybody at some point has to look out for themselves and trudge on through their own life. Parents might have dedicated a big part of their lives to yours, but even that ceases at some point, and what remains is years of memories smashing together and blurring up to form a wave of love eclipsed by ideas of the self. The same happens between the children you have. And then one day when such a person dies, even their memory fades over time.

Death, loss, grief, forgetfulness, ageing, remembrance, leaving, goodbyes are feelings every single being on this Earth has to face. Yet these feelings are forgotten through the very things that cause them- routine. If you really sit down to think about the routine that life creates, how most people spend their life, it will move you to tears. You will realize that the facts and tragedies of life overwhelm every effort you do to set your life apart.

But the very fact that there are people who live, who struggle to live despite everything, that in most of our hearts lies an eternal optimist, who eggs us on everyday. And if we were to believe that eternal optimist, then we realize that there are some things in life which do give life meaning more so than the others. The trick then is to surround yourself with such things, or people, and then probably the moment of meaninglessness won’t hit you so bad.

I go back to a frame of mind only a year ago; I was having a spontaneous dinner with a Chinese couple who lived opposite to me, and I invited one of my closest friends, an Italian I love like a mother, to eat with us. We have a beautiful meal put together with random things each of us had, and a long, terrific, funny conversation; as most terrific, funny conversations usually are, it alternated with deep and hilarious moments. Absolutely content, I ended the day and went to bed, writing this:

 

Meaning in Life

 

How can someone say life is meaningless?

Everywhere I look I can find it

Beauty in the meaning

Meaning in the beauty

Every time I see a smile turn into laughter

The corners of lips curve

The glint in an eye

A loud clap; an outburst of hilarity

The perfect timing of the right joke

I wonder how someone cannot see the meaning.

 

It is so full of meaning, this life

In the kindness of a friend

In the warmth of a hug

I am moved

Profoundly so

In the concern of a stranger

The sympathy in a nod

I wonder how someone cannot see the meaning.

 

Life bursts with meaning

In every cherry blossom there is the meaning

For it may bloom just a few days in the year

Yet when it blooms, it is alive and real

In the vastness of the sky

The faith in a prayer

In the capacity of my own heart

To feel another’s pain, and his joy

In sincere wishes

I wonder how someone cannot see the meaning.

 

It is so easy to find the meaning

Every time I hear someone hum a song

I see a skip in their step

And watch them dance along the way

So much meaning, in the power of words

In the worlds they open

If there is passion there is meaning

In the desire for anything there is the meaning

So I wonder how someone cannot see the meaning.

 

There is irrefutable meaning

In your deep, little eyes

In your thoughtful worry

And your long, funny sighs

Mostly there is meaning

In the love that I bear

For your small, beautiful life

And little acts of care

I really do wonder

How someone cannot see the meaning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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