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The Meaning of Life

I read once that there is a meaning of life.

It’s hard to believe that it could be so simple, since it seems like everyone is asking around for one all the time. To have it be a flippant “Oh, yeah. Yeah,” just seems surprising. But the book suggests that not only is there a meaning of life, but that each of us already knows exactly what it is – that we have known what it is since before we were born.

I should say something sarcastic here. Make some off-handed joke about the really impressive work Entenmann’s does with a chocolate covered doughnut and how those just might be “the meaning of life,” or perhaps its related to the number of licks to the center of a Tootsie Pop. But for some reason I just can’t. Or okay, I just did. But I didn’t mean it.

Of course, there are just too many arguments against such a ridiculous suggestion, how could even the most gullible among us figure it for any kind of truth? And yet the book has sold like hot cakes. People want to believe.

The book continues its preposterous (yet surprisingly soothing) consolation of us poor and mortal beings. It says, we even choose how long we want to be here on this earth before we arrive on it. It says that for those who believe it is senseless for a child to spend only a single day in his mother’s arms before he dies, they are wrong. Rather, that he actually came and achieved his life’s meaning in exactly that 24-hour span of time. That, though sad for the mother, for the baby, that death was not senseless, but rife with meaning.

I imagine the book would say the same is true for the children shot at Sandy Hook or that 23-year-old cancer victim who was cryogenically frozen, so desperate was her hope for living. There is sadness, says the book, but no senselessness. Because the life’s meaning for all has been fulfilled. They knew how long it would take them even before they were born. And they achieved their meaning of life in the timeline they chose.

It is fated – finding the meaning of life – the book goes on to say. There is very little you can do about it. It comes to you. Or you go to it. If it has to come to you, it will fight to get to you, rendering you anxious, embarrassed, guilted or otherwise sequestered in a Woody Allen movie.

Mr. Owl, how many licks does it take?

If, on the other hand, you decide to go it,  you don’t have to worry about getting lost. Because you were given a map, or more like a GPS in the form of emotions. Taking sad and happy out of the equation, finding your life’s meaning is about moving toward peace, love and satisfaction. Any experiences that feel rich or fulfilling are barometers for moving-in-the-right-direction. Anxiety, and other forms of neurosis, are you getting colder.

But if you set your course toward beauty and turn right at gratification, it is there. It’s like Peter Pan meets The Secret meets Oprah’s Church of Really Good Book Clubs.

I don’t know if it’s true. I just about read it. But like everyone, I want there to be a meaning of life. I want there to be a reason that babies die and people struggle. I want that certainty because so much feels so uncertain.

I want to believe that there is something bigger. I don’t mean God but if you need to give it a shape you can use it. I don’t mean Universe but if you need to give it a breadth of space than you can. And if there is a meaning of life, well then, that would be okay, because it would mean I will be okay, it means we are all okay.

I guess that’s why we look and grapple and hope and pray. I guess that’s why we put one foot in front of the other in spite of hopelessness, senselessness and misery. Because we are on a quest for that meaning of life that we are here to remember, uncover and learn.

 

 


My Predictions for 2013

January

I have some really good predictions for January. The first one should prove that I know what I’m doing and that I should do this professionally. Here it is – please read with a Scottish accent:

Winter is coming.

What your heart will look like by mid-february.

Since it will be as cold as a Foreigner song on a 2013 radio station, everyone will mostly do things involving big puffy coats and/or “inside.” Chances are you will also be hearing things that sound a lot like, “It’s Joselin’s birthday month!” because as a birthday obsessed Aquarian, I like to either feel so happy you remembered my birthday or make you feel really bad that you forgot especially since I’ve been reminding you since like January 3rd…So my next prediction is:

You will not forget that my birthday is January 29th.

February

February will suck because it always sucks. It’s still cold and shitty and chances are some rodent in Punxatawny is going to make you think it’s going to stay cold and shitty for the rest of your life. You will throw away most of your short sleeve shirts and any summer-themed alcohol because at this point, coconut rum just makes you want to stab people with winter tans. You start re-watching a lot of TV shows from the 1990’s (like Felicity and early X-Files) in an effort to pretend that there will be a really good keg party in the dorms where everyone is going to learn a lesson about sex or drugs or there will be aliens which makes us all feel better because we are not alone.

March

By March 4th you will start thinking about leaving the house again, not just because there’s been a break in the slushy rain but also because it’s a pretty good suggestion (march forth!). Someone will make plans with you that involve water sports and that will make the ice around your heart start to crack. And, as long as we’re making predictions, you will also be offered a job – although it might be a lame job like your wife offering to let you clean the gutters. (Look, I just predict the things. I don’t conjure them.)

April

Mmm. Salty.

April not much is happening so you’ll host a dinner party and the food you make will be really good. Except one of your side dishes will either be way too sweet or painfully spicy or it will have fallen on the floor. But you’ll serve it anyway because fuck it.

May

This month would have been really awesome except for the fact that you keep breaking things. First your iPhone, then your tea mug then a framed photo of yourself in the high school production of Grease where you played a pink lady. But it’s okay because when you reach out to the high school for a replacement photo, they ask you if you will do the commencement address because at the last minute the Assembly Women has backed down and they know you have a really good joke about musicians that starts, What’s the difference between an oboe and an onion? So you’ll do.

June

You will go swimming. It will be the best day of your life even though you don’t get laid.

July

You will learn something you have been wanting to learn for a really long time but it won’t be a language, a new skill or something about yourself. It might however implicate one of your in-laws in an illegal gambling ring.

August

It will be too hot to talk to anyone, do anything or work. So you will get fired by your boss who is feeling exactly the same way. You will blame global warming and have at least one minor anxiety attack during which you think you are dying of the lump you feel behind your ear or that the neighbor is trying to have you arrested because you definitely looked a little shady when you wheeled the giant box marked “explosives” into the garage the other day, even though it was just some old notebooks and a winter coat. However, nothing will end up happening except that you will have a 4-day Dawson’s Creek marathon, gain three pounds and then get called back to work as a “freelancer” by the end of the month.

September

You will spend this month trying to figure out how to get health insurance now that you are a freelancer. And you will not win anything on the scratch off lottery ticket you bought.

October

You will buy a motorcycle and to the surprise of your partner(s) and friends, will actually turn out to be a really safe rider. You will also become 32% more attractive to girls in their late 20’s-early 30’s, men with facial hair and short people.

November

You will be told you won something. It might be something as mundane as a dance contest between you and a group of your friends, or it might be the Nobel Prize. You won’t know which until November. You will also live off-grid for three days this month, not because of your social convictions but because there will be a really big storm that will force you to live off-grid for three days.

Best. Day. Ever.

December

You will swear off all holiday parties except for your work party. But then you will have so much fun at your work party despite the “casserole incident” (which, let’s face it, was more funny than painful), that you will host a holiday party of your own. This party will actually be horrible but you will make two new friends for each of the seven you will lose. So ultimately it’s a win.

In short, there is nothing to worry about. Because 2013 is going to be the year of US! ‘

(And by “us” I mean readers of this blog; people who just call Eric Clapton music “Clapton” like, “I’m listening to Clapton;” professional snow shoe-ers; and the kids who hang out on the stoop across the street from my house.)