It is a question that has plagued humanity for centuries: what the purpose of our presence on this planet is; not only as a species, but as individuals. What is the meaning of life? We are desperate for our lives to have been worthwhile; to make a difference; to feel we have achieved something, and have done what we were born to do. Some turn to religion, claiming to be individually valued by the creator of the universe; that He personally appreciates their heterosexuality and how they spend their Sundays; that He created the entire universe for this opposable-thumbed species that will probably never see most of it. Some turn to art, trying to find their purpose through brushstrokes and carefully selected words. Some do charitable works. Some devote themselves to achieving their desired career paths. Some strive to show love and compassion to everyone they meet.
Our species, apparently naturally inquisitive, is always searching for our purpose, our reason for being here, what we should be doing with the time that we have. For we have lost the need to strive to survive, the fear and determination and exalted gasping relief that it brings. And so we jump from planes, consume poison, paint sunsets with machines wired to our ears. Whole nations getting through the day on caffeine. Mountainous buildings full of people staring at machines put together by people operating other machines, getting through the day to get home and drink poison and stare blankly at another machine. There isn’t a point to it all, a goal to which end humanity labours.
People running to prevent muscle atrophy and weight gain in this society where it is so easy to overeat, whilst elsewhere people starve. We no longer run because we must, run for our lives, run to kill and thus feed our children. We are hopelessly homogenised and domesticated.
The purpose of life is to itself exist and continue. Our ancestors battled to keep themselves alive, to raise their children so that they would not die before they had a chance at life. We have the same priorities, but they are usually easily fulfilled, and we need not spend our lives battling for survival in the same way. Today, most of us can live, and most of our children will live. We no longer have an inherent purpose.
But what this society gives us is security and time. Most of us no longer have to live in fear of starvation or dread of winter, and we no longer have to devote all of our energy to getting through the day with enough to eat. We have time to make our life mean what we want it to mean. We can carve our own path, find our own meaning and value in the endeavours that we consider worthwhile, the relationships that we choose to pursue. So many people in the world must still battle every day to survive, but we, through luck and circumstance, can choose our own fate.
With all our engrained cultured fronts, in the end were are just pissing, sweating, killing, eating creatures like any other animals, caring for our young and keeping the majority of the resources we can access for ourselves and our families; but with leisure time and the ability and callousness to slowly destroy the world. We have no collective purpose; we have not each a goal which we have been designed to fulfil. We have only the purpose and goals which we set ourselves.
The meaning of your life is born solely from your imagination and circumstance. But that doesn’t make it any less worthwhile.