I Don’t Know


There are many things, that I don’t know. Which candidate will make a good president? I don’t know. When will this Winter end? I don’t know. What will my life be like a year from now? I don’t know. Will there be peace on Earth? Will there be war? Is there life on other planets? Is there a god? What will this summer bring? What will…. well, you get the idea. As a matter of fact, I don’t know most things. Our world is full on knowledge that I don’t know. Throughout my entire life, I have loved learning. Knowledge for the sake of knowledge. I want to know. Why, you ask? I don’t know. Seems like a paradox, doesn’t it? If I love to learn, shouldn’t I know why? But I honestly can’t answer that question. I’m curious. I want to know how things work. Why things work. But I don’t know why.

I’ve studied philosophy off and on for years. I’m curious about the mind. But is it necessary to know how and why the mind works? Can’t I just be satisfied knowing that it does? Apparently not. Many people go through their entire lives not wondering about these things. For them, it doesn’t matter how the mind works, as long as you can think with it. And they’re just fine with that. But I can’t do it. My insatiable curiosity pushes me to know. And you’d think there would be some kind of reward for my learning new things. Some reason for doing it. If there is, once again, I don’t know what it is. Unless it’s a chemical thing that pumps endorphins into the pleasure centers of my brain. That could be it. But I don’t know.

It seems that there are many people like me. We have to have answers. It’s the main reason why civilization has advanced to this point. People need to know. To discover. Even though discovery is a violent act that destroys as much if not more than it discovers, We as a species still seem pushed to do it. Lately we seem to have a renewed interest in space travel. Private companies are now getting involved with NASA and we will probably know more about space in the near future than we have learned so far. Why? Curiosity. Drive. Ambition. We have a desire to know. There are days however, when I just don’t care to know anything. I can float through my day reading a good novel, watching television, or writing poetry and not have a single care about the world around me. On those days, I don’t leave the house. I spend all day in my sweat pants. I drink tea and I’m lazy all day. And then there are the days that I devour a philosophy text book or spend hours on the computer looking things up, feeding the curiosity monster within.

I have always had a sense of wonder. That childlike quality of bliss upon discovering something new. I remember being young and looking up at the night sky and wondering what was out there, squatting at the rivers edge, turning over rocks to look for crayfish, or seeing how many times I could skip a flat stone across the water. I loved those days as a child, when the world was new and waiting for me to jump in. And jump in, I did. Funny enough, I’ve never lost that quality. I still look up at the night sky and wonder. I still want to go tromping through the woods just to see what’s there. I still want to know.

So I’m glad for that. I’m happy that I still want to know. And I’m happy that some days I don’t. As this Winter winds down to a close I have a renewed sense of wonder. New beginnings. Spring won’t be long now I feel. A time for coming out of my cocoon. Getting outside with my camera and capturing new life brought by warm sunlight and longer days. Walks in the woods without all the heavy gear of Winter. And I think about my wife. She loved Springtime. Curious like me, she loved to learn. Time to learn something new.

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The Meaning Of Life


What is the meaning of life? Here is a question that has kept sages and clerics and ordinary people busy for most of human history. What is the meaning of life? It is a question that has kept me busy as well. Why? Because I want to know. Just like millions and probably billions of other people, I too want to know if there is any meaning to life. There are lots of opinions as to the answer, but has anyone really come up with it? Douglas Adams, one of my favorite writers, has his characters in the classic, “Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy” ask the question, “What is the answer to the question of Life, the Universe and Everything?” A super computer, built for the sole purpose of finding that out, took 10 million years and came up with the answer, “42”. Everyone was quite disappointed, having waited 10 million years to get an answer they didn’t understand. When they consulted the computer about the answer it said, the answer to the question of Life, the Universe and Everything is 42. The problem being, they didn’t actually know the question. This sent them on another, millions of years quest to find out what the question was. I think Adams was trying to tell us, that there’s no answer to that question. Not that that has stopped anyone from asking, however. Inquiring minds want to know. What are we doing here? What is our purpose? Is there any meaning to anything we do? Lots of people have theories. Lots of others claim outright that they know the answer. But do they? How do we find out?

You can ask anyone the question, “What is the meaning of life?” and you’ll get answers from, “I don’t know, to “The meaning of life is to love God” and just about anything in between. I’m going to postulate a theory here. This is it: There is no such thing as life. Now, before you go banging your head on the computer, or cussing me out, stop and think about this. What is the “life” that we’re wondering about. If we can ask the question, “What is the meaning of Life?” then “life” must be something tangible, that we all belong to or are a part of in some way, right? It’s like asking, “What is the meaning of a NASCAR race. Before asking that question, we should know what a NASCAR race is. Once we know that, we can fathom the meaning. Like “The Hitchhikers guide to the Galaxy”, we won’t understand the answer if we don’t know the question.

So what is life? I’m postulating that life, as we think of it, doesn’t exist. Now some of you are probably thinking I’m going to get all metaphysical on you. That’s not it. But I’m going to show you why I think “LIFE” as we have come to think of it, doesn’t exist. Here goes. Consider all life on Earth. Human, plant and animal, right? Since science tells us that humans are the only life form capable of reasoning the question of life, we really don’t need to think much about animals or plants. Like this: Does a Fox question the meaning of life as she hunts her prey? Does a Bee wonder why it’s attracted to flowers? Science tells us, it’s only humans who ask those kinds of questions. So let’s concentrate on them.

Say for a moment that we could remove all humans from the Earth. Snap! Like Thanos, except 100% of all humanity is gone. Right before the snap happened, someone was contemplating the question, “What is the meaning of Life?” Now that all the people are gone, where is the “LIFE” that this person was wondering about? If we are all part of life, and we can contemplate its existence and meaning, is it not then, tangible? Can we not then, so to say, put our hands on it? Or, and here comes the messy part, Does life only exist because we think it does? Now I know what you’re going to say. Of course life exists, because I’m alive, you are alive, my dog is alive. That however, is not what I’m talking about. Yes, life exists. Rene Descartes said, “I think, therefor I am.” Proving that life is tangible and real. But, is that the same as “What is the meaning of life?” I don’t believe it is. Now if we make one small change to the question, “What is the meaning of life?” to “What is the meaning of MY Life?” Now were getting somewhere.

Each individual has a life. There is my life, there is your life. That is how life exists. There is not, an entity called life. So there is no answer to the question, “What is the meaning of life.” Because there is no “life”, there is no meaning. But there is, MY life. There is, YOUR life. And those things have meaning. People have searched for the meaning of life since life first began. Finding an answer to that question has given birth to religion and philosophy and consumed people, some people for their entire lives. But really, shouldn’t we be asking, what is the meaning of my life? And why aren’t we asking that question? Why aren’t we looking deeper into our own lives as opposed to looking for the answer to a question that’s unanswerable? If we turn the question of meaning to our own lives, then we have to start taking personal responsibility for their meaning. We must be in charge. We must decide what, if any, meaning there is to the things we think, do, and say. And that can be hard.

To take conscious responsibility for every aspect of our lives isn’t easy to do. We have to constantly monitor ourselves and look deeper into the meaning behind every thing we think, do, or say. Rather than thinking of “life” as something “out there” that we can’t control, asking the question, “what is the meaning of my life” puts the responsibility of answering that, squarely in our own laps. And it’s a big responsibility. Watch the news on television or read the paper. Look closely at all the horrible things people do each and every day. What is the meaning of their lives? Is it to screw people over? Is it to take as much as they can? Is it to hate, or is it to love? The only way to improve “life” in this world is for each of us to ask ourselves, what is the meaning of my life? What am I meant for? What am I here to do? They are much smaller questions than asking, what is the meaning of life, and yet the answers put upon us much greater responsibility. We are now faced with answering that question and then acting upon it if our lives are not meaningful. If we can answer these questions for ourselves then we have found the meaning of life.