What is life all about? What is the meaning? For centuries, across the generations, through the widest array of societies and belief systems imaginable, mankind has been always striving for the answer to this question. The day to day can get boring to the extent that we feel like a waste of space, a waste of everyone’s time including our own. Sure, I can find people and things that are fun for awhile – but I’ve got a brain and I just know I can do more. I want a bigger picture: what is it I’m working to accomplish, not this week or this year, but with my life? Will my trials ever amount to anything? If not, then why should I bother trying at all?
People are always attempting to become invincible or at least complete something that will give us a sense that when we are gone, an immortal trace of us will remain. Everyone does it, whether through conquering the business world, winning football trophies, writing poetry, or designing buildings. Some of us feel younger around our children, feel secure if we move into a bigger house every few years, feel more influential with each salary increase. If I can invest shrewdly enough and speak well enough to impress or simply shock the world around me, I will serve a purpose. If I load up on hazard insurance and watch my weight and maintain careful control over my daily life, I can practically live forever. And once my greatest goals are accomplished, the mark I leave on society means part of me will never die.
But sometimes it seems I cannot succeed. Everyone wants a cut of what I have earned. When I have finally put the kids through school and bought my wife all that she asks for and sent the tax man packing, all that will be left for me is a shadowy reminder of my formerly impressive income. I will not be able to buy all the things I want or do all the things I want or maximize my enjoyment. And common sense teaches me this is life’s point – day to day, moment to moment, having all the fun I can. Because as I get older I must be realistic; my mind is gradually slipping and my joints are weakening and one day I will not be able to walk. Even with the greatest technology and the most powerful friends, someday I will die. That day will come too soon; not long after I have done what they said I could not and earned the millions I dreamed of and made my mark, the respect these things bring will be useless.
Will at least my children remember me? Maybe. If I gave them the things they asked for and went to most of their little league games and didn’t hassle them, they might visit me fairly often in the final years before I expire. A broken old man, at the end I will be little more than a burden to those who “love” me. And what of love? The wonderful sensation we call love fizzles out, runs dry, itself dies of age. Can I find a woman who will not leave me, friends I can count on for life? Can I enjoy being around my children enough while they are home to counter the pain when they move away? All the truest love will one day fade, disproving the very definition of an overrated term. Is “love” as we use the word truly a capacity of the human animal? I have seen too many examples of the opposite to believe it is. I say we should look at this as the most harsh of the four-letter-words: a fable passed down by generations of childish people, fools scrambling for acceptance and long term feelings that simply don’t exist.
I will concede that sounds crazy at first – but what is love if not mere overemphasized attachment? The so-called wise look to love to fill in for other wants, to feign some sort of meaningful life, to distract themselves from their material failures. Day in and day out we hear that love is bigger than genes or thoughts or money, that love is the point of life on earth, even that a loving deity put us here in the first place. I know too many shattered families, harmful relationships, heartbroken lovers to rely on such a fairy tale. So in the end, it seems there is no way to be invincible. My money will go to children who were wishing I might die as soon as I couldn’t maintain myself any longer. Their children will forget what I looked like and how the wealth they inherit was made. One day, it will be forgotten that I ever lived at all.
And what if there is something else after life? Even as a youth I was too smart to buy into that, and I will not be one of those people to sell out now that I realize I’ll eventually die. What weakness, to parade under the banner of strength while physical ability is with you but just as highly wave humility’s colors when no longer can you fight for, argue with, inspire those around you. Is physical ability, then, the source of power? Money is not, for it intoxicates us to seek more but can potentially be stolen or lose its value without warning. Dollars may last longer than muscles but cannot be enjoyed, once your muscles have worn out. All good things, it appears, are fleeting. Again, what of the afterlife? I have never seen an angel, never heard gods shouting from the sky. I have no proof, no sensible reason to think I will continue on another level when I have died. I might as well go back to pretending I’m invincible.
But yes, I am young. I can stand, I can fight for myself and for the things I want. I am intelligent. I agree with the scientists, when they bring overwhelming evidence that man evolved from the apes. I revel at the simplicity, the energy, the power that our ancient relatives possess. Perhaps we should not think ourselves so unlike them; maybe we have become too caught up in ourselves. I waste my strength climbing someone else’s ladder because self-righteous men decided I had to “earn” the things I enjoy. However, I’m not convinced our superiority over the apes lies in our competitive market structure or sense of justice. Power in feelings, philosophies, and social systems? We can hardly keep track of half our own emotions or thoughts. These are not our source of power, but further wasteful attempts at immortality.
Youth and our natural gifts are the only real sources of power. Inpiduals once settled issues, decided who was the best, made the rules – long before we were domesticated, before we fell off track and into the cages we now call home. We are better than the chimpanzees and gorillas. The human brain knows greater depths of trust and fear, more intricate senses of deceit and diplomacy. Why squander the strength and intelligence we have, spending our days in front of a computer or behind a counter or next to an assembly line? Meaningless rules pen us in, break our drive, keep us from the things we would have. Simple, rational justice has been forgotten in the race for wealth and love and fleeting power. Survival is the key. If society were pure, based only on what we rationally know and freed from the muck of old religions and traditions, the truly strong would be most likely to survive and prosper. Then man would see his full potential: more intelligent and creative than the primates but not such a different species that some set of higher laws must be obeyed.
Bear with me: realizing that survival is the highest goal in life, do we really need so many laws to protect the weak? Science has shown us what we really are, leaving no more excuse for imaginary gods or proud notions of justice. Tradition, armed with tales of good and evil, “right” and “wrong,” is the weapon of every government. From birth we are told, like our parents were, that there is a correct way to act and an acceptable way to live. We are tied by nonsense to our families and told we must follow made-up rules to be happy. We are permitted to strive for what we want only within these strict terms. We can maximize our enjoyment only in doses. We are trapped by generations of rhetoric and left with one solution.
Centuries of tradition are not changed easily, but living in a society does not necessarily mean abiding by its standards. What can you do, knowing that there’s no bigger picture? Ignore the rules to the greatest extent you can get away with. You have no reason to look over your shoulder. Forget what you have been tricked into believing, and remember that daily enjoyment is what really matters. Only a fool would search for more. If each would take what he could get, his true intelligence, willpower, and cunning would determine his happiness. His weaker opponents deserve not what they cannot take by plotting, cooperation, or force. Let them lose if losing is in their genes. The very history of life itself is a story of survival: follow the rest of the planet’s example.
this is not at all how i feel…i wanted to set up an anti-God argument and realized anything halfway is watered down. ie. if you don’t believe in God or creation then believing in love or truth would be silly. this is extreme and exaggerated, i know — but proves my point, i believe. read part 2 for the opposite opinion.