Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Meaning of Life: Part 1

That which has been is what will be, 
That which is done is what will be done,
And there is nothing new under the sun. 
Is there anything of which it may be said, 

“See, this is new”?
It has already been in ancient times before us.
There is no remembrance of former things,
Nor will there be any remembrance of things that are to come
By those who will come after. - Ecclesiastes 1:9-11

Ecclesiastes is my favorite book of the Bible.

I love it probably because it is the most challenging. Or perhaps because it stimulates the philosopher in me (shout out to Kieran). But one thing is certain. This book strikes me as being pure, unadulterated truth.

It is the ultimate search for meaning.

There is something solemn, almost depressing about the introductory thesis.

      “ Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.”
       What profit has a man from all his labor – Ecclesiastes 1:2-3

Like Lauryn Hill said… “Everything that you did has been has already been done.”

So what is the point? Why do we do all that we do? Do we do it so that we will be remembered? Perhaps we build our legacies and fortunes to pass on to our children. But isn’t that selfish as well? To the extent that our children are the mark that we leave on the world it is at least partially selfish. And even our children will pass on. Buildings with our names may be erected but over time they too will fall. Even if you establish an entire civilization, those too crumble.

Egypt was around for thousands of years and even it met its demise; leaving behind some fresh pyramids with dope graffiti on the walls. Greece and Rome came as well. They too left some cool buildings and sculptures as well as a few good books. But the cares of the individuals, their hopes and dreams and work all vanished in the sands of time.

Our society today has created so much. We have achieved levels of understanding that make us believe that we can comprehend the universe. We have created a global information network that allows us to share our ideas with the rest of the world with the click of a mouse. But that too will some day fade away long after the last flickers of electricity disappear into the darkness of time’s passing.

Everything that has been has already been done.

I have spent many sleepless hours trying to answer this question for myself. What is my purpose? What do I do next? Why did I do what I did before? And somehow in these pages I find the truth.

The “why” doesn’t matter as much as the “what”.

The measure of a life isn’t why someone lived how they lived, but rather what the contents of that life were in the moments that they were lived. Were you happy? Did you enjoy your work? Did you surround yourselves with people that you love? Did you enjoy good food? Did you live your life to the fullest?

The purpose of life lies in the present.

This is the message that I get from this book. The past is meaningless, the future is meaningless. All of the same things happen over and over again in different forms anyway. What truly matters is the present. That is where the meaning is. The present is the truth.

When I think about life in this way it is quite liberating. All of the past troubles and mistakes disappear and the future worries evaporate into the nothingness that they truly are. When I remember that the present is all that matters, all that is complex becomes simple. I start to “be”.

And after all, that’s what we are right? We are human beings. Our purpose is to live and exist in the now.

A wise friend of mine once told me that the key to life is to do the best that you can in the present moment every single day.

The more that I think about those words the more I see how truly correct she was. 


  1. What a great message to share as we approach the start of a new year. A new year to live each day we are given to the fullest as yesterday is gone and tomorrow is not guaranteed.

    Then again, why wait until a new year to do what can be started, now.



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