By June 5, 2022– Published on
Another Round in the Books
I recently completed another trip around the sun. I still haven’t figured out the meaning of life.
I begin each day shouting into the abyss in the form of a daily journal. I write down the front and centre items in my mind, and it focuses my energy for the day. It also serves as a record of account for the things in my life that I would like to change - goals. It keeps me accountable.
I can pull up entries from a year ago and read about my life's most significant pain points (have I addressed them?) and the most essential aspirations (have I gotten closer?).
It also plants the seeds for my weekly newsletter.
I was out for dinner last week with some new friends - the usual questions, “What do you do?” the standard answer, “A handful of things, of which writing is my favourite.”
“So, what do you write about?”
“That we should take comfort in our insignificance….”
This is What I Know
There are 8 billion people in the world - That means there are 8 billion lived experiences occurring right now, of which I am only one.
Therefore, my life experience equates to a total of 0.000000000133% of the life experiences that are occurring in this minute… and that is if we limit our population sample to the humans that are alive today (a tiny fraction of the humans that have lived over time).
But we live in the world our predecessors created, so the relevant population of human experiences would be the cumulative population of all humans. Homo sapiens appeared on the scene about 190,000 years ago, and (although absolute speculation) anthropological estimates agree that around 117 billion homo sapiens have walked the earth during this time.
So now, we are one in 117 billion. Expressing this number as a percent is irrelevant - we don’t sufficiently compute the differences between Quintillions and Decillions.
Suffice to say; we are pretty limited when it comes to perspective.
But lived experience is all we have to interpret the world, so even if we have experienced only 0.000000000133% of the world as it is occurring in this minute, we use this experience to analyze and define 100% of the world as it happens. This lack of evidence rarely discourages our convictions.
I have an opinion about sweatshops that I have never visited, repercussions for crimes that I have not been a victim of, and commercial food production, even though my hit ratio on homegrown basil is about 50%.
By any metric, I don’t know what is happening most of the time. (Isn’t this a simulation anyways…?)
But it feels good to have opinions. It helps us add logic to the world - we may not understand the “why” behind events (or that “why” is often an irrelevant question), so we create the why - we add the meaning that we need to process the events that surround us.
The world may actually be empty and meaningless (what a relief), but if true, that statement would also be empty and meaningless, so don’t make too much of it…
If an experience brought me pain, I want to understand why, so I can avoid that experience in the future. If an experience brought me joy, I want to understand why, so I can recreate it in the future. We want to feel good. We don’t want to feel bad. The “purpose” of life might be that simple.