I Figured It Out: The “Meaning” Of Life

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I get depressed about death, or at least the idea of it, and I am afraid of never being happy or finding love or writing the books I need to write before I die.

But what bothers me more than anything, and has since I was five years old, is the fact that I am alive and conscious, a tiny human being, living in this tiny speck of time.

Like everyone else, I’m very aware we’re embroiled in some kind of mystery here, something which, because we’re stuck right in the middle of it, seems weird and incomprehensible. I waste a good deal of my time trying to find answers, and the best I have come up with, after a decade or more of near-constant mulling, is that we are like insects. Our lifespans are short, and it doesn’t matter if we live or die—yet, like insects, we are important because we exist. I’ve most likely mentioned this before, in a post of mine, but it feels good to refresh and clarify things, even if it is only for myself; and what I mean to say is, well, we really are kind of like insects, only a little higher on the totem pole. Little, tiny things, easily squashed, but essential, in a way incomprehensible to ourselves.

Let me put it this way. Bees, for instance, can have no possible comprehension of what it must be like to be a human—the gap between our minds and theirs is too tremendous—but they nevertheless, despite their ignorance, go about their days, attending very busily to their duties, forming new hives, laying eggs, collecting nectar and pollen, all for the sake of continued survival. And the offshoot of all this, though the bees don’t know it themselves, is that thousands of flowers continue to proliferate, and we, as humans, are able to eat the fruit and vegetables only able to be grown through the pollinating efforts of the little critters. But the bees themselves, they don’t spread pollen from one flower to another because they know it will help other, far more intelligent organisms than itself. It just wants honey and pollen to store and eat. The idea of “eating” a fruit is incomprehensible to it.

We humans are the same. We will never know the “meaning” of life, because in the greater context, which is entreily beyond our comprehension, the way the human world is entirely beyond the ken of bees, “meaning” doesn’t mean anything. It’s a different world, whatever sees us the way we see bees, so the human language can’t even get close enough to describing it. It’s indescribable, because we can never know it. All this suffering, this death, this hatred and inequality, love and happiness, art, all that we know and feel to be so important, is important to us the way obtaining nectar and keeping predators out of the hive is important to the bees. Likewise, it is likely that our existence possesses some other “offshoot” (though once again, in the greater context, the word “offshoot” has no meaning, no place) the way the bee’s existence allows other greater organisms than itself to survive for greater beings. If that makes sense.

Take something that might be incomprehensible to a bee, for instance—say, the disappearance of great portions of its honey. This is strange. Honey just disappears! Where does it go? It’s a mystery, to the bees, and a very irritating one, and perhaps they get all worked up about it, in their own bee-ish way. What they don’t understand, and can never comprehend, is that a beekeeper, is, in fact, taking away some of the honey to sell and distribute to others of its kind so they can eat it. A bee will never understand this. It just knows that some honey is gone, and they don’t know where it went. They can’t do anything except continue visiting flowers to get more honey to fill its honeycombs. The entire concept of a farmer taking the honey and selling it is beyond their comprehension; it has no context, in their tiny little minds.

I think this is the same for humans. Take something we find incomprehensible: death. We don’t understand it, and most of us don’t like the thought of it, and when it happens, we hate it and we feel sad—just as a bee might when it finds its honey gone (though, again, bees might not feel “happy” or “sad” as these words are only applicable in a human context; instead, they might just feel their form of discomfort). And just like the bee, who can’t stop the farmer from taking its honey, we can’t do anything about it. Death happens, and will happen to each and everyone of us, whether we like it or not, and all we can do is to live as best as we can, while we are alive. However, death, though terrible for us, may have a very comprehensible reason behind it, just like there’s a very good reason the bee’s honey is disappearing, only we will never know it because our brains cannot comprehend it—just like the bees.

And another thing, again regarding death. We hate death because we love ourselves and we love life even when it is bad. That is why deep, deep self-hatred can lead to suicide: when you loathe yourself to a great enough extent, you can lose the will to live, because you no longer value yourself. Most of us, like all living creatures, want to live, without knowing why. If a gun was pointed at our temple, there’s no saying what any of us would do or say to remove it. In the face of death, people have been known to hand over their loved ones, their own children, betray their own countries, families. In addition, we are also afraid of pain, because it feels really, really bad.

So we are afraid of pain, and we want to live: therefore, death, which often causes pain and stops us from continuing to live, seems really awful to us. But let me ask you a different question—does it matter if one bee dies? At least in the full scheme of things, when it comes to pollination, the continued survival of the hive? No. It doesn’t. It doesn’t, because there are plenty of other bees to take its place. The death of one bee has a negligible impact on the survival of the other bees, which is what matters to its species, and the continued pollination of plants, which is what matters to us as humans. I think it’s the same for us. It’s awful to die, no-one wants to die, not the tiniest amoeba to the greatest whales lurking in the ocean; but as an individual, our death barely has an impact, just like the death of one bee hardly has an impact

Even all this is technically mere speculation and smoke and mirrors as I am writing all this using the human language, in the huamn context, which is all I know. We can’t ever brush at the truth—not through thought, not through art, not through words, dreams: the truth is ungraspable, just as the concept of the Internet is ungraspable for an ant. So like the bee, like the ant, like everything else that lives and crawls and oozes along on this planet, all we have to do, then, is just live, and die when the time comes, and extract what beauty and joy we can and do what good we can while we live, and forget the rest, because we will never know the answers because they are beyond our comprehension and always will be.


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