So, I’ve been away and I’ve come back. I’ve spent most of the last 5 weeks at the Southborough l’Abri doing the l’Abri thing – which in my case has meant spending a lot of time thinking, reading, listening, talking about Meaning.
Man’s search for meaning is pretty universal – most of us at some point wonder what on earth life is all about. We wonder if there can be any meaning behind our existence at all. To quote Friedrich Nietzsche:
“Why am I alive?
What lesson am I to learn from life?
How did I become what I am, and why do I suffer from being what I am?“
I think most of us, if not all of us, feel the pull of those questions through our lives. If we don’t, it is because we are better and better at distracting ourselves, lest we think about things too deeply and reach conclusions we don’t like. For me, coming from a Christian background and having spent the large part of my 20s in something of a religious fervour, I feel the pull of those questions keenly. I wonder what on earth life is all about.
Most of the time I live day-to-day. I’m getting better and better at it – at being present and in doing ‘normal life’. But I frequently wake up to myself and feel that each day is rolling into the next with a crushing, purposeless inevitability. That after tomorrow is another tomorrow no different from today. And what is the point of that?
After a busy, messy autumn I decided I needed some time to rest, to think etc, and that is why I ended up in Southborough (that and being homeless and unemployed). Thinking and talking about meaning.
I’m not going to go into everything I’ve talked and thought about here today. It’s going to take me quite a while to process all my thoughts, read my notes, re-listen to lectures, discuss with friends etc. But I do want to say that a couple of cartoons here seemed poignant to me the last week or so.
I love the sentiment of the one above. The Sagan quote has a wonderful simplicity to it that I want to hold on to. But the cartoon itself is so naive, making light of war and suffering in a way that no genuine search for meaning can get away with. And even Sagan’s “brief and magnificent opportunity” is difficult, because it doesn’t lend any way to live, other than gratitude. Still, gratitude isn’t that bad…
The other one I wanted to add here was this:
When looking, be careful what you seek.