We are in many ways surrounded by the idea that our life has a meaning and we should strive to find it for ourselves. But what if there’s actually no meaning attached to our life? Would you feel liberated or rather utterly depressed?
Some time back I was reading Viktor Frankl’s book “Man’s Search for Meaning“, where the main idea was that in order to survive, people had to have a purpose. Recently though I discovered the work of Albert Camus, the philosopher. We might have heard of Albert Camus, the writer. But he was actually also an existentialist, though his ideas were quite different from any group of thinkers. I found his work particularly interesting as it’s exactly opposite to many beliefs. He basically says life doesn’t have a meaning, and that’s ok.
Camus’s main philosophical idea is centered around the absurd. The fact that whatever we think we want to do with our life, and how we think we can have an impact is going into the void. The universe doesn’t really care. Nor will support us in achieving that, it will just be indifferent. The random acts of luck and support we perceive here and there are easily thrown away by those those acts that feel against us. That’s why more often than not, our attempts at finding meaning fail, and fail miserably.
The meaning of life
Albert Camus makes a rather bold statement. That there is no meaning to any of our lives, and we can’t make some either. Society, religion, philosophy, science or politics, none can really give us the purpose we might long for. In the end, we’re just arbitrary living on this planet, in a really small corner of this Universe. How can we actually think that the Universe will accommodate our life goals and work so that they happen?
Just think about the process of finding a life’s meaning. We never seem to find a satisfactory answer, and even when we do, after a while it all seems to change. Any such attempts end up in disaster sooner or later.
Still, Camus doesn’t see this as bad. The sooner we understand the absurdity of life, the better we are at being free to live our life. He doesn’t preach the afterlife, but rather enjoying as much as possible the life we live in the now.
Making your life worth living
If you are to put aside the though of doing everything with an end long term goal that is meaningful, what would make you end each day with a feeling of “this was a great day”? What are the little things that give your soul the joy of living?
Learn to live here, now. Travel, explore, kiss, be yourself. Go eat the food you want, sleep in the open, enjoy a walk in the sunshine, a good coffee, etc. Leave the meaningless of life in the background. Think of it as gravity: we don’t see it even if it’s there, but we live it with anyways. We still have a life to live, so we can as well enjoy it while it last. Camus’s advice is to embrace the absurdity of life with a smile on our face and I would add, with some irony and humor. Go now, make your life worth living!