A Meaningless World

Let us say I decided to pull the giant plastic bin of Lego pieces out from under my son’s bed, and from that vast soup of variously shaped and colored plastic build a racecar. What would that racecar mean? I would have to say the racecar itself would mean nothing. That is—the car has no inherent meaning. The only way for the car to have inherent meaning would be if every single person who beheld the car felt exactly the same about it, felt it was cool, or inspiring, or too red, or not red enough. But we know this is not the case.  We know that if we show this racecar to 100 people, we will get one hundred opinions on its value. Many of the opinions will be similar, but none will be exactly the same.

This is why everything, from the flowers to the moon to toy racecars, are meaningless—in and of themselves. They are inherently neutral, for only then can each of us find our own meaning in everything.

Nearly every time I feel the most crushing despair, it is because I have sought meaning outside of myself. It is as if I were asking a dictionary what I should write. All the words are there, after all. But the dictionary is waiting for me to decide. It does not care what I write. Those words may have definition, but their true meaning, for me, will only be found once I arrange them beside one another in a way that pleases me. Nothing means anything, which is the only way for us to create meaning in every decision we make.

Shakespeare said, “Joy’s soul lies in the doing,” and so it does. Phillip Roth, who has written a lot, says he does not reread anything he has written. This makes sense to me. His pleasure, his meaning, will always be found in what he is doing now, not what he has already done.

And likewise, as we search the great soup of life for what to make next, we will draw from all that has been made—all the words invented, the shapes found, the colors mixed. From this great creative mass will come our own unique meaning and creation, creations we leave in turn for others to make meaning for themselves.

If you like the ideas and perspectives expressed here, feel free to contact me about individual and group conferencing.

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