What is the meaning of life? Does it have any meaning beyond what we give it? Science is suspiciously quiet on this subject, so the answers have come almost exclusively from religion. There are literally thousands of competing stories to choose from – and of course each claims to be the only truth.
If only one of these stories can be true, the remainder are at best half-truths and mostly lies. It seems unreasonable to expect someone to discover which one, if any at all, is correct. Unfortunately, even presuming one of these stories is true, the myriad of choices also ensures that the vast majority of people following a faith are living a lie.
I sometimes long for the certainty of blind belief. It is rewarding to be able to step outside the tunnel vision of such a dogmatic viewpoint and see all sides of an issue, but it certainly is not as comforting. The necessity of endless judgement and learning is wearying at times like these to be sure, but it’s ultimately more satisfying than capitulation to unreason. Still – it’s pretty hard not to be envious of those who see meaning and purpose in all of this madness.
I don’t know the answers. I’ve come to view my ignorance in these fundamental questions as good thing. There is no clear purpose to life other than the ones we create ourselves. A search for meaning generally leads people to mirrors of one kind or another, anyway. Kind people find meaning in service. Frightened people find meaning in assurance. I’m no different. My curiosity and skepticism lead me to find meaning in truth, discovery, knowledge, wisdom and insight.
I know this. Embracing learning as my primary goal keeps me challenging my own viewpoint. This endless search leads to so much wonder and beauty that it has become its own motivator. It also leads to boundless awe, deep pride in our accomplishments and vast humility regarding our collective ignorance.
The joy of not knowing is in the pleasure of finding far more than I sought.