We hear everywhere the idea that our life has a meaning and that our happiness depends on finding it, so we should strive and fight to find the purpose of our life. But what if there’s no meaning our life should accomplish? Would you feel liberated or somewhat utterly depressed?
Some time back, I was reading Viktor Frankl’s book “Man’s Search for Meaning,“ where the main idea was that to survive, people had to have a purpose. But then I discovered the work of Albert Camus, the philosopher. We might have heard of Albert Camus, the writer. But he was also an existentialist, though his ideas were quite different from any other group of thinkers. I found his work mainly thought-provoking, as it’s exactly opposite to many beliefs, including mine. He 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 lives, and how we think we can have an impact is anyways going into the void. The Universe doesn’t care. Nor will support us in achieving that, the Universe is just indifferent to whatever we do. The random acts of luck and support we do perceive here, and there are easily countered by those acts that we see to be against us. That’s why usually, our attempts at finding meaning fail, and they 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 create any either. Society, religion, philosophy, science, or politics, none of these can give us the purpose we might long to achieve. In the end, we’re just arbitrary creatures living on this planet, in a small corner of this Universe. How can we believe that the Universe will accommodate our life goals and work so that they happen?
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. All our attempts eventually end up in vain sooner or later.
Still, Camus doesn’t see this as wrong. 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 now.
Making your life worth living
Think a bit different. If you are to ignore the thought that everything you do needs to have an end (long-term) goal that is meaningful, what would make you end each day with the feeling that “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. Eat the food you want, sleep in the open, enjoy a walk in the sunshine, a good coffee, the starts, and the sky, etc. Leave the meaning of life in the background. Think of it as gravity: we don’t see it even if it’s there, but we live with it anyways. We still have a life to live, so we can as well enjoy it while it lasts. 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. So what about you go now, make your life worth living?