Gertrude’s Diary #144 – The Meaning of Life

I figured that in the run-down to #150 I would really pull out all stops and tackle the big one.  Do I care that philosophers, poets, and saints have failed through the ages to agree on the answer to this question?  Am I intimidated by the scores of books, both sacred and secular, that have attempted to distil an answer?  No!  I scoff at their laboured efforts, their wordy replies to this simple and timeless question.  Instead, I reckon a 450 word blog is going to sort it out.

First, let me introduce some parameters; an insight into how I arrived at my answer.  I think anyone would agree that an answer to the question of the meaning of life that cannot be condensed into a 10 second sound-bite is barely worth repeating.  Further, the correct answer would be applicable anywhere, to anyone, at anytime; it’s no good telling someone that the meaning of life is to be found in long hours of quiet meditation if they’ve got 2 jobs, 3 kids, a lazy husband and a bad back.

Also, it would have some relevance to the question of what we are going to do about THE TERRIBLE CATASTROPHES THAT AWAIT US IF WE DON’T STOP BURNING FOSSIL FUELS.  Oh, wait.  Getting too specific there.  Silly girl.  I mean, it’s not like climate change is a global issue or anything.   And it’s really not something you’d choose to talk about in polite company – imagine how uncomfortable people might get.   Why, it doesn’t bear thinking about!

To revise; concise, universal and relevant.  And fresh.  I mean to say, there’s no point rehashing over what’s been done before, and therein lies the greatest challenge because I think just about everyone who’s anyone has stuck their oar in at some stage.  Have a look at this, just for starters.

I particularly like Wittgenstein’s style:  “Your question doesn’t make any sense, so there. ”  Camus and Kierkkegard are elegant in their Absurdist way:  “kill yourself, ha ha ha ha.”  And, perhaps not surprisingly to some, the Cynics seemed to be quite closely aligned to my own point of view:  “The Cynical life rejects conventional desires for wealth, power, health, and fame, by being free of the possessions acquired in pursuing the conventional.”   And I think the secular humanists have a lot going for them, although they would on the face of it have a rather anthrocentric view.

So here it is, Gertrude’s Meaning of Life, arrived at through years of long, thoughtful study and half an hour on Wikipedia.  Enjoy.

Be kind to each other, work hard, care for and value the earth and all living things, and eschew wealth, power and fame.  I’m still deciding about health – it seems a handy kind of thing to me.

Next week, God.

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