Thursday, November 4, 2010

The meaning of existence

I live each day where I find myself and carry my solace with me. I do not feel a need to control my environment nor have it control me. There is no prewritten script that we ignore to our detriment.

I also do not look at life as a quest dictated by arcane and ancient mythologies. There is no grand, mysterious prize hidden from view that we must find through much hand wringing and reading of the tealeaves. There is knowledge to be gained and progress to be made. However, the vast majority of real progress made by our species has occurred at the likes of Pasteur's workbench, Edison Labs, MIT, and Johns Hopkins. Clinging too tightly to the past, listening only to one's emotions, and living in the future tends to result in events such as the trial of Galileo, rejection of medical advances, and refusing to look at mountains of scientific research.

I find enjoying each day, contributing, and being engaged is where life really is. Once upon a time, I lived my life in some nebulous future state but found that I was not living at all. Invariably when the future finally arrived with each passing second, if I bothered to notice at all, it was often not the existence my imagination had conjured. At that point, in my life I assumed that this meant I was somehow unworthy or had not acted according to the rules of the game. If only I had spent two more minutes a day in silent mediation, or read one more verse the outcome would have been so much different. What a painfully legalistic existence that. What omniscient deity would be so petty and punitive?

Attempting to control in minute detail the course of one's own life and those around us is similar to trying to grasp a wave as it crashes on the sand. We can adjust our position as the waves continue to arrive but arrive they will and in the way the local environment directs. We can hope for a different shape to the waves and grasp at them with our tiny hands. However, we will find that the water merely slips through our fingers as the waves hurry on to their destination.

I choose to walk through the waves when it is fitting and enjoy the constant rhythm of life's ocean that it has followed for billions of years. There is no imperative to stand in the way of the ocean and attempt in vain to bend it to my will. The ocean and I are fellow travelers in a complex walk sculpted by our milieu. I will live today and share the gift of each fleeting moment with my sojourning companions.