Life Doesn't Make Sense - That's The Point
I'm going to try my best to consolidate this article into a digestible, 3-4 minute read. No, not for your sake, but for mine. If I allowed myself to go full novel on this article, I'd probably analyze myself into an intellectual/philosophical hole, which is ironically exactly what the content of this article is meant to prevent. No, I'd rather keep it simple.
I touched a few weeks ago on over-thinking, and this is more or less a follow up to that article. Life doesn't make sense, to anybody. It's senseless, and not just the bad. We all know that heartbreaks, illnesses, broken families, violent atrocities and death often feel senseless. But just as lacking in explanation is the good things life has to offer. In fact everything that is good and wonderful about life seems to be senseless.
Child birth is beautiful. I'm a bartender, and I often find myself talking to men about their families while they have a beer in the mid afternoon. The conversation usually turns to the birth of their first child. I'm telling you, there is a glimmer in the eye of a man talking about his first child that is inexplicably genuine. Why? Child birth is beautiful. But boy is it painful for women. Boy is it expensive. Yet, beautiful. Senselessly painful; beautiful.
Why do we pay money for paintings, music, or movie tickets? Money could be used for food or clothes. If we were simple, primal animals, only interested basically in surviving, why would we use a perfectly good resource like money for art instead of food? That doesn't sound logical to me. It sounds senseless. But art is beautiful. It's captivating.
How about love? Love is senseless. Especially monogamy. Sure, primally, it makes sense to find mates and reproduce. But there's no obvious evolutionary reason to pick a partner for life and sacrifice your freedom and sometimes your happiness for them. But it's beautiful. It's why we all wept watching The Notebook. Love that knows no limits is beautiful, and we value beauty, perhaps more than anything.
I make just enough money, live in an apartment with a roof and four walls, and never have a shortage of food to eat. From a basic survival standpoint, I have all I need. But it's implied that I would move on eventually. And I will. I want a family. I can't have a family making under $20,000 a year, and living in a dingy South Nashville apartment. But couldn't I simply forgo the desire to have a family and live like the way I am for the rest of my life? Yes. But I won't. Nor would anybody. Because surviving is not enough for us. We want to live.
So if to live means to give up a life of certain provision, doesn't that mean living, by definition, is a bit senseless? Trading in a certain good thing for a potential better and more meaningful thing sounds like madness from a survival standpoint. How do you even quantify meaning? 'WHERE IS THE SCIENCE?!' 'Why would I give up my house and food for something I can't scientifically measure?' Our culture is obsessed with science. 'Give me data.' 'Show me proof'. Do I really need to show you evidential data to prove to you that you want to matter?
We all want to matter. What does feeling meaningful have to do with survival? What do feelings have to do with survival? Nothing, as far as I can tell. It's mysterious. Maybe that's the point. All of this, to me indicates that we aren't simply survival beings, but deeply feeling beings. We consistently lay aside our physical certainties for philosophical freedoms. It's why people are willing to die for their country or religion, or for their spouses and children.
The things that mean the most to us make the least amount of sense. In fact, meaning itself makes little logical sense. That's the point. The very definition of awe is, according to Google, 'a feeling of reverential respect mixed with fear or wonder.' Boom! To be alive is to be awe struck. To be awe struck is to not understand. A lack of understanding is not a pitfall of humanity, but rather what makes it wonderful. Life doesn't make sense. That's the point. Embrace it. Live awe-struck.