Tuesday, 26 October 2010

The Meaning Of Life

By Rachel Surtees (@RVSurtees)

I have a theory. Hot off the press so to speak: I think that the idea that we're all still hunting for "the meaning of life" is ridiculous. I think we know exactly what it is and always have done.

For some reason we have allowed ourselves to be so overwhelmed by the enormity of the question that we've left it to the scientists and philosophers to fight it out. And yet, "the meaning of life" floods our every movement; shapes our legal systems; informs our sense of morality (both personal and societal); and colours every political system from London to Lima to Lagos.

How could it not? The meaning of life is the reason we are. And of course, every culture, family, individual will have a different interpretation of what it means to them, but surely the meaning of life is to live. Isn't it?

Isn't that why the idea of working in a stuffy office fills us with horror whilst achieving the holy grail of the perfect work-life balance so appealing? Because we all need time "to live" otherwise we begin to feel that life has no meaning.

Isn't that why we (most of us at least) find the idea of long-term imprisonment of young-offenders so troubling? Because to effectively deny someone the right to a chance "to live" freely is so contrary to our nature.

Ironically enough, isn't that why proponents of the death penalty have such an easy time defending their stance? Because acts that inhibit someone else's ability "to live" seem so indefensible.

And isn't that why we have memorials for our loved ones who have died? Because it allows them to live again - if only in memory.

Last week my father died of lung cancer. I barely knew him and yet have felt such sadness for him in these last few days. Because by all accounts he didn't live. He allowed past mistakes to prevent him from living and then died within hours of finding the forgiveness he craved but didn't seek out. What a shame. To have a life but not live it. Isn't it? Perhaps this post could be a memorial of sorts. Give him one last chance "to live".

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