Tag Archives: finding purpose

The Danger In Telling People Life Has No Meaning

Cartoon of a teacher pointing to a chalk board that says, "BIRTH -> IN BETWEEN STUFF -> DEATH." A student in the classroom is asking, "That's it?"

 

If there’s no true, pre-set inherent meaning to life then the question, “What did you do with your life?” serves the same practicality as, “What was the purpose of your life?” If there’s no true reason why we’re here then that’s as close as you’re going to get to experiencing and fulfilling any real meaning in your life, and on one level it is real.

Suppose you dedicated your entire life to playing football. Then on your deathbed, someone asks you, “Why were you here?” Well, apparently you were here to play football. It doesn’t matter if that’s what you were supposed to do. That’s what you did. So that’s retroactively why you existed.

Understanding that, if someone asks you what the meaning of life is, and you just smugly tell them, “Life has no meaning…” and leave it at that, then the only influence you’re likely to have on your audience to convince them there’s no point to thinking about the question altogether.

If that happens, they’re still going to end up doing something with their lives. Their life is still going to be guided subconsciously by a primary prerogative…only now they’re not going to be conscious or in control of it. This means they’re just going to let their evolutionary instincts guide them. Their priorities will be to reproduce, conquer and consume, and they’ll fall into the pack or herd mentality and allow the ebb and flow of mainstream culture to define their identity, wants and fears for them. They’ll meander through life as confident as they are blind.

When someone asks you what the meaning of life is, if you say it’s meaningless, you may as well just tell them it’s to mimic your favorite television characters and be a workaholic consumer whore.

P.S. Telling people the meaning of life is 42 accomplishes the same thing.

 

If you enjoyed this post, you’ll also like these:

 

The Meaning of Life
How to Think Like a Genius
Knowledge and Learning
Biker Philosophy
My Tweets About Philosophy 

How Do You Find Purpose Without Knowing The Meaning Of Life?

Life is an absurd, existential dilemma because we must go through it without knowing the answers to the most important questions: What caused the Big Bang? Does God exist? Do souls exist? What happens after we die? What’s the difference between right and wrong? What is the meaning and purpose of life?

 

 

Our lack of answers to these questions affects our lives every moment of every day. Why do you get out of bed in the morning? Why do you go on living? Is it because you’re working towards a goal that’s meaningful to you or are you just surviving out of habit or because you don’t want to die? Do you even have any personal goals? Are you letting the tides of society determine how you spend your days?

We’re destined to live and die lost, but that doesn’t mean we’re doomed. If you can find a goal that’s important to you personally, and actively work towards fulfilling it, then you won’t feel purposeless and unfulfilled. If you don’t pick a passion and follow it, you’ll feel existentially depressed even if you believe in God and Heaven. So, it’s a moral imperative that you pursue self-actualization.

 

 

Nobody is going to cram self-actualization down your throat. You can’t rely on your parents, schools, mentors, bosses, religious leaders or luck to turn you into a fully-realized adult. The social, political and economic systems that run the world aren’t designed to walk you through the steps of growing up and fulfilling your potential. They’re more designed to starve you, grind you down and exploit you. Your life is your responsibility. It’s up to you to study all of humanity’s wisdom and systematically pick out the most useful instructions on how to create yourself.

You’ll find more relevant information on that topic in psychology textbooks than in ancient religious tomes written by warring tribesmen who made human and animal sacrifices to Gods. Parts of your “self” were defined by your biology and the environment you were raised in. So In order to understand yourself, you have to understand how your nature and nurturing molded you into who you are today. Before you can begin working on achieving a goal that brings you personal fulfillment in this absurd, existential vacuum, you have to fully understand yourself: your strengths, weaknesses, aptitudes, tendencies, predispositions, personality type, emotional type, intelligence level, etc. Then you need to use that information to define your wants.

 

 

After you define your wants, the rest of your life will be a race with no finish line, as you continue to explore and pursue your passions. Maintaining this level of dedication requires a systematic understanding of motivation and success skills. You don’t need to go to college to find these answers. All the wisdom of history is just a Google or YouTube search away.

 

 

If after all that work, the only finish line we’re ever going to cross is death, which erases all our accomplishments, why bother? Well, it’s like climbing a mountain. It’s not the destination that matters, it’s the journey, the pleasure and meaning of which, is determined by how high we climb.

 

If you enjoyed this post, you’ll also like these:

 

The Meaning of Life
How to Think Like a Genius
Knowledge and Learning
Biker Philosophy
My Tweets About Philosophy 

Why You Shouldn’t Commit Suicide

Your body is made of start dust that has existed for about fourteen billion years. The history of the universe is the history of how you were born. You’re the universe incarnate. Your body is made of trillions of atoms that form billions of molecules that form millions of cells that form a network of interconnected tissues and organs that all add up to create a walking, talking, seeing, smelling, hearing, feeling, thinking, dreaming, loving, learning, hurting, glowing, reproducing organic machine. The blueprints of your body are incomprehensibly elegant. To say that you’re intelligently designed is an understatement. I don’t know if there’s a God or not, but it looks like a lot of love, attention, and genius went into the design and creation of every living thing in the universe, including you.

 

 

Try to imagine what the universe was like before the big bang when the universe was nothing more than something that could have existed. At that first moment, what were the odds that almost fourteen billion years later one small pile of atoms that had been dancing and swimming across the cosmos would coagulate into an inconceivably elegantly designed organic bipedal supercomputer that is self-aware and thinks it’s you? My guess would be the odds of that happening are either one in infinity or zero. I don’t know why we exist or what the meaning of life is, but the rarity and brevity of life sure seem to point to the conclusion that life is inconceivably important… including yours.

If you ever get to doubting your importance, go climb a mountain and watch the sunset and the stars come out. Stand in the cold night air and gape at the oceans of atoms in the night sky swirling through eternity. That’s the universe that gave birth to you, and that’s what you are. You’re a shining, cosmic miracle living in possibly the grandest, most elegant, albeit dangerous, playground that could possibly exist.

Nothing you can ever do or not do will change how important you are. Everyone has their own reasons why they doubt their self-worth, and many of those reasons seem to have merit. We all fall short of our potential, and we all do things we regret. We all hurt people, sometimes very badly. We’ve all done things we’re ashamed of. Even when we think we’re doing everything right, sometimes the world just keeps beating us down until we’ve spent so much time on our belly that we feel like an animal.

The irony of that is, we are all animals. We’re pretty clever monkeys, but we’re more primitive than we tend to admit. Our brains may be cosmic supercomputers, but they don’t have enough storage space to begin to comprehend an iota of the knowledge out there. Since we weren’t born with an instruction book we don’t even know what we’re supposed to be learning anyway. We’re all so lost we don’t even know how lost we are, and that’s how we’ll spend the rest of our lives. The silver lining in the existential despair of existence is that we’re all doing amazingly well under the circumstances. We all deserve a pat on the back for being able to function in society at all. Also, our failures and imperfections were inevitable. You shouldn’t get any madder at yourself or anyone else for screwing up than you would a two-year-old.

Life hurts bad, and it hurts often. Then, at the end of it all, we lose everything. Some of the pain we endure is unjust, but all of the pain we endure is the cost of living. Fortunately for you, even though on one level you’re nothing more than a monkey lost in a storm, you’re also still an intelligent, autonomous, bipedal cosmic supercomputer. You might not be the smartest, fastest, strongest, most beautiful, most successful monkey, but you’re still one of the rarest, most powerful forces in the universe. Your five senses, thumbs, and legs effectively give you superpowers, and the more you learn the more superpowers you can have. As long as you’re breathing, there’s something you can do to find and enact solutions to your problems. You have the power to change your environment. You just need to use your superpowers and never ever, ever quit.

 

 

Of course, that’s easier said than done. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed, but help is out there. In fact, you already have more help than you can imagine. It’s important to bear in mind that the universe itself has already spent almost 14 billion years giving birth to you, and it’s still helping the trillions of atoms in your body operate in perfect unison. The gears of the universe are always spinning inside of us, around us and to the farthest corners of the cosmos. The universe is always doing something for you.

Before you were even born, generations of human beings toiled in the mud to keep your bloodline alive. People have fought and died for you. People have devoted their lives to understanding the universe so your generation will be less lost than theirs. You weren’t born in the mud because your generation is being held up by the accomplishments and sacrifices of every generation before you. You’ve been given so many gifts unconditionally by your ancestors that you should feel grateful to the point of feeling indebted.

On the other hand, your ancestors also did a lot of selfish, hurtful things that make life suck. The religious, political and economic systems they handed down to your generation are woefully flawed and cause immeasurable suffering. Even though there are members of your own generation who want to maintain the status quo and keep profiting from the problems in your life, there are millions of people out there willing to be your ally if you just reach out to them. There are some people you’re going to be compatible with, and there are some people you aren’t. If you’re surrounded by people who treat you with indignity and make you feel like a subhuman freak, you need to reach out on the internet and find a tribe you fit into. I guarantee you, it’s out there somewhere.

If your mental health is so low that you’re contemplating suicide, you should reach out to a suicide hotline, an online suicide hotlinesupport group, forum and/or professional therapist. Those resources are out there. Help is out there waiting for you, and seeking help isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of wisdom.

Sometimes suicide seems like the only solution to your problems, but it’s a permanent solution to a temporary problem, and if you haven’t already sought help then suicide isn’t really your last resort. You still have multiple options before even considering that. If you’re willing to give up everything you have to escape your problems via suicide then there shouldn’t be anything holding you back from sacrificing everything in the pursuit of improving your life via paying for therapy, spending time at support groups, moving to a more peaceful place or traveling the world.

 

 

Why make even more sacrifices to stay alive in a world that can be so cold? Because your life is bigger than your pain. Any support group will tell you life gets better, and the harder and smarter you work the better it gets. You might not get everything you want out of life. You may never see Rome or Paris or the Aurora Borealis, but the entire universe is littered with potential awesome experiences. The most rewarding experiences out there are the ones you have with the people you love, and those people are out there either right in front of you or just around the corner. Even if they’re on the other side of the planet, you can still reach them if you’re crafty and tenacious enough.

The more positive opportunities you seize and the more positive experiences you have the more they’ll shape you into a stronger, wiser, more complete person. The better of a person you become the better of a life you’ll experience. As long as you can grow, your life can become more joyful and fulfilling.

 

Picture of a fortune cookie that says, "The major value in life is not in what you get, but in what you become."

 

Even if your life turns out to be nothing more than a cosmic accident and your existence is ultimately meaningless, you can still shine in the brief time you have before you die anyway. You don’t have to climb a mountain to find that. You’re already a miracle experiencing a miracle. You can feel that anytime anywhere. All you have to do is let go of your worries and just be.

Yes, there are problems in this world that we can’t just ignore in an oblivious haze of naïve optimism. But if there are problems in your life that you can fix then you should fix them and not worry about them. If there are problems in your life that you can’t fix you should accept them and not worry about them. Either way, there’s no point in enduring life’s problems if we don’t take time to stop and bask in the positive aspects of life as often as possible. That’s what makes life grand. That’s what makes life worth living. That’s why you’re lucky to be alive and why you shouldn’t cut short the priceless, brief opportunity you’ve been given.

 

If you enjoyed this post, you’ll also like these:

 

The Meaning of Life
How to Think Like a Genius
Knowledge and Learning
Biker Philosophy
My Tweets About Philosophy 

The Cosmic Perspective (Why It’s Wrong To Hurt People)

Imagine if after you died you had to stand in front of God and/or everyone who has ever died before you and explain why you were so indifferent to (or enthusiastic about) the suffering of your fellow man. Then, after you explained yourself you had to stand with your ancestors and listen to the apologies of everyone else who died after you. What excuses do you think we’d get most tired of hearing? And if we had to apologize for bullying, exploiting and manipulating each other as well, which excuses for those kinds of behaviors do you think we’d get tired of hearing the quickest?

Part of me wants to believe we live in a just universe and that there’s some kind of fairness in death, but it would be entirely fair to force us all to stand around and shake our heads at ourselves until the universe blinks out of existence. So as it stands, the theoretical, unprovable possibility that the universe is fair terrifies me, and even if there isn’t any kind of afterlife at all, the survival of humanity still depends on us not hurting each other. Either way, we should all be asking ourselves what went wrong? What’s going wrong? Why do we keep hurting each other?

If you want to understand why people hurt each other, you can start by listening to everyone’s excuses and looking for common denominators. If you do that, the first thing you’ll notice is that humans are experts at making excuses. Everyone who hurts anyone has a reason why they believe they’re doing the right thing, but no matter how solid our reasons sound, they always overlook one simple detail that trumps our excuses: the value of human life.

 

 

If we truly appreciated the value every human being brings to the universe, then we’d never hurt one. We’d go out of our way to make sure everybody had enough of everything without needing to be ordered or guilt tripped. We certainly wouldn’t hold other people down and take what little they’ve got.

Based on the evidence I see around me, I don’t think the disconnect between how valuable life is and how valuable we treat life comes from the fact that we’re too dumb to understand how valuable life is. Based on the evidence I see around me, I think we’re just too dumb to teach it to our children. In fact, we’ve been systematically indoctrinating children (the future hope of humanity) to believe in mythologies in which human sacrifices have to be made to atone for humanity’s innate despicableness. Of course people are going to act crazy when you give them that kind of moral compass.

You don’t need a book or a prophet to tell you how valuable life is. Just go spend a night camping on a safe beach far away from the city lights. Spend a few good hours staring at the stars and soaking up the enormity and beauty of the universe. You won’t find a catchphrase written in your native language up there that describes in bureaucratic detail why life is valuable and how it should be treated. You’ll just see the universe laid bare outside the warped lens of your ancestor’s culture.

As you’re staring up at the sky imagine floating in outer space among the stars looking back down at the earth. From that vantage point, you can easily see that life is a treasure 14.6 billion years in the making, and it doesn’t matter which words you use to describe it. If you can simply look up and see the truth of that then how can go back to work and yell at another living, breathing human being about how the most important thing they can be doing with their life right now is turning in paperwork and if they don’t turn it in on time they’re going to get in so much trouble it’s going to set back their entire future as punishment for being such a criminally substandard human being? How could you rob poor people? How could you inflate half-truths to justify going to war?

 

 

If you can’t see why it’s wrong to hurt other people then you’re not spending enough time looking at the stars. When you see other people being mean you can be certain they’re not evaluating the value of life from the cosmic perspective.

 

If you enjoyed this post, you’ll also like these:

 

The Meaning of Life
How to Think Like a Genius
Knowledge and Learning
Biker Philosophy
My Tweets About Philosophy 

It’s Okay To Be Lost

There are religions which teach that you were born lost, impure, unworthy, unchosen and in need of salvation. The cure to your fatal disease is to accept and follow the set of beliefs and behaviors outlined in whichever book informed you of your inadequacy. In return for your loyalty, you’re promised that after you die you’ll be spared from a torturous eternal fate you supposedly deserve and get to spend eternity in a vaguely defined paradise.

If you accept this explanation of life, then the path before you will be simple. You just have to keep believing in what you were told and keep following the rules. You can pretty much just relax and wind down the clock on autopilot, and you’ll never have to worry about figuring out the answers to any of life’s big questions yourself. This makes religion sound appealing, but the benefits don’t actually outweigh the cost, because all of the religions humans have invented are simply human inventions. They’re all mythology.

 

 

Facing the fact that religion is mythology is terrifying for believers for several profound reasons. First, it means you’ve been lied to and used by the person you thought was your savior, which is too emotionally traumatic for many believers to even consider. Worse than that though, when you lose your religion, you lose your purpose in life and your moral compass. Life is existentially depressing and hopeless if you’re not living with purpose, and it’s confusing if you don’t have a compass. Since you still need answers to life’s questions, if you don’t have a religious book to look them up in, that means you’re responsible for figuring them all out for yourself.

We all know we’re not prophets or Einsteins. We know we don’t have the intelligence or authority to figure out the ultimate meaning of life. This means after you figure out that religion is wrong, you can’t just trade in all your wrong answers for all the right answers. You just lose you’re moral compass and spend the rest of your life lost.

A lot of theists would rather live a comfortable lie than face a lifetime of being lost, not just because it’s scary, but because they view being lost as a sign of weakness, a character flaw that needs to be stamped out. The cold, hard reality of the world we live in, is that we’re born lost, and we’re destined to wander the universe lost until we die. We’ll all face death not knowing what happens afterward or if our actions mattered. Once you accept that, you can cope with the situation sanely. But denying the reality of the situation only cripples your ability to cope with it, and that’s the definition of insanity.

Believing in mythology is like trying to hike across America using a maritime chart of the Indian Ocean for directions. Plus, you’re stuck with a traveling companion who forces you to act the way Indian fishermen acted 2000 years ago, and he constantly tells you that you’re not good enough. Accepting you’re lost and looking at the universe from an honest, scientific perspective, is like hiking around America with a wilderness survival guide with Sherlock Holmes as your traveling companion.

If you’re losing faith in mythology, and you’re worried about what to do with your life after you throw away your map of the Indian Ocean, just climb to the top of a mountain, and look down at the forests and fields below. Not one single tree, flower, or blade of grass is stressing about what to do with their life. They’re just drinking in the universe and reaching for the skies. If you were to look at yourself, standing on top of a mountain, eye-level with the clouds, you’d realize you’re already doing the exact same thing, and it’ll make you feel so alive, the last thing on your mind will be death.

 

 

Of course, you can’t spend their whole life meditating on a mountaintop, but why would you want to when there are so many other experiences to be had, problems to be solved and wonderful people to be met? Frankly, you were going to spend your whole life chasing experiences anyway, whether you claim to believe in religion or not. You can just do it more effectively when you’re not blinded, gagged and crippled by fictional, mythological beliefs.

You can look at the mystery of life as an eternal curse, or you can look at it as an endless opportunity. The universe might not look as scary if you focused on how amazing it is. Maybe we’re not even really lost. Maybe we’re already home, or maybe this is what it’s like to leave the nest. Maybe what we’re supposed to be doing is using the tools we were given to fulfill our potential and not just sit around on our knees talking to ourselves and beating ourselves up for failing to live up to the moral standards of primitive cultures.

 

If you enjoyed this post, you’ll also like these:

 

The Meaning of Life
How to Think Like a Genius
Knowledge and Learning
Biker Philosophy
My Tweets About Philosophy 

Reality Is Amazing

 

If you’re searching for perspective in life, go camping on a mountain on a clear summer night. At midnight, put on a warm coat and look at the sky. Everything you can see from a mountaintop, in fact, everything in the universe you can see, feel, smell, touch and hear is made from combining 118 different atoms in different combinations. The reason you can make such a diverse universe out of so few building blocks is because they’re so ingeniously designed. Atoms behave so logically that you can arrange them in a chart and predict how they’ll interact with other elements based on where they are on the chart. The inventor of the Periodic Table of Elements was even able to predict the existence and nature of yet unknown elements because nature is so mathematically logical.

 

 

Not only are the building blocks of reality logical, they’re resilient. Every atom everywhere obeys the rules of the universe all the time; so far the universe has operated like clockwork flawlessly for about 13.8 billion years. It’s also grown so huge there’s not even a number for how big it is. But no matter how old or spread thin the universe becomes, atoms still follow the same inherent, unwritten rules everywhere, all the time.

If you take any atom in the universe and break it apart you’ll find it’s made up of smaller pieces that behave according to their own set of rules, and the product of their actions becomes the behavior of the atom at large. Those subatomic particles are made up of even smaller pieces that follow their own set of unwritten rules. The rules of subatomic physics are too complex for most humans to understand, and even our brightest scientific minds still don’t completely understand what’s happening at the bottom of reality. At this point, scientists have broken atoms down so far that the pieces just look like invisible forces and mathematics. Until they can find more concrete answers, we’re left to wonder how and why we live in a universe made of math.

Even if we don’t understand the grand design, we can still marvel at it. And its most breathtakingly genius feature is the existence of life. It’s odd enough that such an elegant universe would exist in the first place, let alone possess the capacity to convert inorganic matter into self-replicating DNA automatically.

What makes the existence of life even more surprising is how complex its design is. Consider that your body is made up of countless atoms joined together to form molecules, which behave according to their own set of logical, purpose-driven, unwritten rules. Molecules are designed to combine and form living cells. There are about a trillion cells in your body that consume food, produce energy and poop while performing some function your body needs to live.

The precision and speed at which the cells of the human body operate at is cosmic. To simply lift your arm over your head, your body has to send an electrical impulse down a conductive fiber to your arm muscles, which are made of millions of fibers the size of hairs. The electrical signal tells the muscle fibers to inject themselves with calcium, which causes billions of smaller components within each strand to contract. They stay contracted until the brain sends a signal to the muscle to flood its cells with potassium, which blocks the muscle’s ability to hold its grip. All those billions of events happen in a fraction of a second.

As impressive as it is that the human body can move so efficiently using such an involved process, that doesn’t scratch the surface of our anatomy’s complexity. The cells in our bodies follow unique rules to form tissues, which follow their own set of rules and combine to form organs, which interact elegantly with other organs. Together, they create a self-replicating, self-healing, self-aware, problem-solving, bi-pedal, autonomous supercomputer with a stable skeletal structure and strong muscles that lives on a giant rock spinning around a giant fireball in an endless vacuum.

If you’re impressed by the design of the human body, you should be equally weirded out by it, because the programming instructions that run all of the body’s functions are stored in your DNA, which is made out of atoms, which arranged themselves to form DNA by themselves. The universe arranged itself into DNA and is running programming instructions in your brain. That means the universe is literally your copilot.

 

"What if we're just the universe experiencing itself?"

 

Your body is more than just a machine. It’s a mother, father, son, daughter, employee, citizen, lover, believer, dreamer, worrier, champion, loser, etc. This is how we tend to think of ourselves, but on the grand scale of things, our bodies are ultimately tiny globs of atoms jostling in a sea of atoms. If doctors dissected you, all they would find are atoms. They wouldn’t be able to find you.

Your memory, identity, skills, emotional scars, motivations and everything else that defines you as a person is the product of chemicals and electricity churning away in your brain, a glob of inanimate matter behaving animatedly. Somehow it all comes together to form something that exists between the lines. Somehow the brain produces a ghost in the machine that can will your body to speak the words, “I think. Therefore, I am.”

Not only do you know you exist, but you can distinguish yourself from other piles of atoms. You can interact with other atoms, and they’ll respond to your existence. Other people can also acknowledge, remember and interact with you, further reaffirming the reality of your existence.

So here you are, built on math and grown from stardust, living for a short time with the ability to comprehend your own existence, knowing you’re going to die someday relatively soon. At that time, all the atoms in your body that held your consciousness together will unravel themselves from each other and spill back into general circulation. The brevity of life might make existence seem futile, but the amount of power and work that went into creating the universe and the life within it suggests there may be value to it. You may be an underpaid employee, a rejected lover, an overworked parent, or unappreciated artist, but first, you’re a cosmic miracle/mystery.

The big question is, what do we do with this surreal life we’ve got? If nothing else, we should all be standing around looking at our hands saying, “Whoa,” because reality is amazing.

 

If you enjoyed this post, you’ll also like these:

 

The Meaning of Life
How to Think Like a Genius
Knowledge and Learning
Biker Philosophy
My Tweets About Philosophy 

The Value Of Life

In order to explain the value of life, we need to start from the very beginning, which was about 14.7 billion years ago when all the matter and energy in the universe was compacted into an infinitely dense point in space called a singularity.

There’s a lot we don’t yet know about the singularity. We don’t know why it was there or how it got there. We don’t know whether it had existed forever or if it appeared out of nothing in a specific instant in time. For that matter, we don’t know if time or space existed back then in the same way we experience it today. There are theories that it probably didn’t. All we’ve been able to reasonably deduce is that the singularity was there, and in an instant an unknown catalyst caused it, and possibly time and space, to expand to cosmic proportions. This event is commonly known as “The Big Bang,” but “The Big Expansion” is more accurate.

During the early phase of the expansion, all the matter in the universe was too hot and energized for atoms to hold themselves together, much less bond with other atoms to form the 118 elements that makeup all the matter we’ve found in the universe today. After 150 million years of expanding and thinning, the explosion thinned and dispersed enough energy for the atoms were stable enough to bond together into elements.

The first celestial bodies to form were massive clouds of hydrogen gas, and within those clouds arose the conditions necessary to give birth to stars. Within those stars arose the conditions necessary to give birth to planets and black holes. As the universe became more diverse in composition it, created more diverse conditions to produce more diverse elements. The continued expansion, cooling, and pooling of matter and energy in the universe resulted in a never-ending redesigning of the physical universe that eventually created the conditions necessary for life to exist.

About 9.6 billion years after the Big Expansion, which would be 5.1 billion years ago, the Milky Way galaxy formed. About 5 billion years ago some of the remnants of a supernova within the Milky Way began to cool off and form into the planet, Earth. About 3.5 billion years ago life appeared on Earth. After that, life evolved in complexity for about 2 billion, eight hundred fifty million years before simple, multi-celled organisms appeared.

After that, evolution sped up rapidly. In about the same amount of time it took for life to evolve into multi-celled organisms, their descendants evolve into millions of elaborate species of plants, animals, fungus, bacteria, etc. including dinosaurs that towered up to 43 feet tall.

About six hundred forty-nine million nine-hundred thousand years after the dinosaurs went extinct, a small, furry mammal evolved into the first homo sapien. After that, humans evolved for about 90,000 years before our cultural history began. From there, it took us about 10,000 years to go from writing on clay tablets to surfing the internet.

 

 

Now, with all of that information in mind, go outside the city on a cloudless night and take some time to stare up at the night sky. Think about everything that’s happened in the past 14.7 billion years that led to you standing there staring back up towards your cosmic birthplace.

If one particle had been missing during the first second of the Big Expansion, it could have shifted galaxies, and you wouldn’t be here today. If one more or one less star between the big bang and where Earth is today had or hadn’t exploded or imploded you wouldn’t be here today. If the earth was only a few miles closer or farther away from the sun you wouldn’t be here today. If one more or one less asteroid had hit the earth you wouldn’t be here today. If one more or one less extinction level event hadn’t occurred you wouldn’t be here today. If there had been one more or one less rainfall you wouldn’t be here today. If one animal had or hadn’t eaten one of your countless ancestors you wouldn’t be here today. If one animal hadn’t eaten one of the predators trying to eat one of your countless ancestors you wouldn’t be here today. If any two of your ancestors hadn’t met and copulated on the day they did you wouldn’t be here today. Each of your female ancestors was born with between 200,000 and 400,000 potential eggs in her uterus though only several hundred of them matured into eggs. Each of your male ancestors produced about 5 billion sperm in their lives. When you were conceived, there was between 40 to 600 million other sperm that could have gestated the egg your mother provided instead of the one that created you. Only one combination of sperm and eggs in each generation could have led to your creation.

 

 

What are the odds that you’d be here today? For all practical purposes, there’s a 1 in infinity chance. Imagine all the potential beings who would have gotten the chance to exist had things turned out differently. Imagine how they would scream in the darkness with jealousy that you received this coveted chance and they didn’t. Some people might call that destiny.

Even if it was a matter of pure chance that you, specifically, should be alive, it’s no accident that the universe or life exists. There was a reason The Big Expansion happened and life emerged on earth. We don’t know what that reason is, but everything happens as a result of cause and effect. If there was a cause there was a reason, even if that reason was purely scientific. If there was a reason, then there was a purpose. If there was a purpose, then there is value in the life of any creature capable of fulfilling that purpose.

Unfortunately, you weren’t born with a price tag on your toe. So you can only deduce how valuable your life is, but there’s evidence of your value in how much work went into creating you. Remember, it didn’t take 9 months to create you. It took 14.7 billion years. The matter in your body today was present at The Big Expansion. It has traveled the length of the universe. Galaxies rose and fell around you in the great cosmic tidal wave that brought about the conditions necessary for you to be born. The matter in your body used to be in a star. It might have been part of a dinosaur. You might have been in a glass of water drunk by your favorite historical figure.

Spending your entire life on this familiar planet, it’s easy to take yourself for granted while perceiving the beautiful nebulas and globular clusters in the sky as miraculous celestial bodies, but look at earth from their point of view. You’re a celestial body too. In fact, you’re even more amazing than the most beautiful astronomical phenomenon. The fact that you, a sentient being, aware of your own existence and capable of self-determination, arose from inanimate matter is as miraculous as The Big Expansion its self.

 

 

The contradictory nature of your existence raises some more penetrating questions. We don’t know why the universe exists at all, but we know that the physical universe is meticulously, mathematically, and consistently designed and behaves according to fixed, unwavering rules. Why and how is it that these rules exist? How is it that those rules allowed for the sublimation of living creatures whose bodies are meticulously, mathematically, and consistently designed? Why is heredity mathematically predictable? Chance isn’t predictable. So evolution must not be entirely the product of chance. If that’s true then what else could it be the product of?

It’s been theorized the universe could have been designed by some form of intelligence. There’s no conclusive evidence to back this theory up, but it’s not entirely without precedent. After all, we ourselves are intelligent beings who arose from inanimate matter. And in a universe where you can’t get something from nothing it would explain where our intelligence came from. Granted, that still leaves the issue of where the creator came from. Maybe the creator existed forever. Of course, if it did, then maybe the universe existed forever as well, but if that were the case then the universe wouldn’t have needed a creator to create it since it was always there.

If there was logical intent behind your creation then your life has an extra source of value. You’re valuable to the one who went through 14.7 billion years of deliberate, calculated work creating you. Regardless of whether or not your parents were the only intelligent beings responsible for bringing you to life, there still aren’t words to fully describe how cosmically epic in scale your existence is.

Yet for all the work and purpose that went into bringing you here, you’ll only have a handful of decades to be a witness to your self and all of creation. In a universe where time appears to be infinite, you’ll take a finite number of breaths. You’ll speak a finite number of words. You’ll see a finite number of blades of grass. You’ll meet a finite number of people. Every moment of your life that ticks by was the only chance in all of eternity for you to experience that moment. That makes every moment of your life (no matter how mundane it may seem) infinitely rare and thus infinitely valuable. That makes every moment of your life the most valuable moment of your life. Those moments are only infinitely valuable because you are.

 

If you enjoyed this post, you’ll also like these:

 

The Meaning of Life
How to Think Like a Genius
Knowledge and Learning
Biker Philosophy
My Tweets About Philosophy 

If Life Is A Game, How Do You Win?

Picture of the board game, "Life" by Milton Bradley

 

You can think of life like a game, but not a game like Candy Land where the only prize is bragging rights and the only consequence of failure, a simple “Oh shucks.” Life is a game in the sense that there’s a purpose, and tied to that purpose are rules, but unlike Candy Land, life doesn’t come with instructions. Part of the game is to figure out the purpose and the rules before time runs out. Also, unlike Candy Land, almost nobody ever even tries to figure out the rules. We tell ourselves we’re not allowed to figure it out. We tell ourselves we’re too dumb to figure it out. Or we lackadaisically assume we weren’t meant to figure it out. So we give up the game before we even star…. and make no mistake, this isn’t a game you can opt out of. To quit is to lose.

Another thing we misunderstand about the game of life is, we think it’s won with big victories. We think success in life is determined by the big choices we make like picking the right spouse, job, religion, political affiliation, sacrificing our life for our country, winning a championship game, becoming famous, making it in the history books, etc. While all these accomplishments have their place, they’re not the deciding victories in the game of life. You could count on your fingers the decisions of that magnitude you’ll have to make in your life, which leaves a lot of time unaccounted for.

Spending minutes is like spending money. You may spend $40,000 on a car and call it a big decision, but if you add up all the candy bars, socks, pencils, soap, bread, milk, sodas, etc. you’ll buy in your life they’ll add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars. How you manage your money in the small things really determines whether or not you’ll win the game of being able to afford retirement. In life, the little choices, the grains of sand that pile up will in the end, far outweigh all the boulders.

So what have you been doing your whole life? Trying to reach a certain square on the board? Are you hoping if you stand on the right spot on the globe it will transport you to heaven? Have you been looking for that one person? If so, I have bad news. When you convince yourself the purpose of your life is to get married, you’re going to crush your partner with codependency. Are you hoping if you make enough money you can buy a bridge over death? If not, how many hours a week are you putting aside living to earn more money and why? Do you think if enough people know or remember you that you can surf the waves made by your impact on the universe for the rest of eternity? You don’t win the game by doing something.

You win the game by growing. That’s how a tree wins the game of life. It grows up and blossoms. Unlike trees though, humans can grow to their full physical size and still not fulfill their potential. It’s as important, if not more, for your mind grows to its full potential. Your mind is a complex machine. It’s harder to explain how to raise a healthy mind than to explain how to raise a healthy garden, and you’d be surprised how complicated it is to raise a healthy garden. But you need to figure out how to do it anyway because your mind garden is going to die if you don’t. And if your mind does fall sallow and dies, you can’t blame anyone else on the board for failing you. Even if your accusations are logical and just, at the end of the day, your mind garden is your mind garden. That’s nobody else’s problem, and yet at the same time, it’s everyone’s problem just as everyone else’s problems aren’t yours and yet they are.

The game of life is played in your mind, our minds. Think of it like exploring a DOS or UNIX operating system for the first time and trying to figure out how the system works. Anyone familiar with navigating operating systems will tell you, the quality of the answers you get are equal to the quality of questions you ask. The game of life is played by asking the right questions. What should you learn? What sources should you trust? How do you determine truth? What exists? How does the universe work? Why do people act the way they do? Why do we feel? Why do we think? Why does life grow? Why does life reproduce? Who are we and what the hell are we doing here? If we can’t know then how do we decide what to do now?

You begin playing the game of life by looking up at a starry sky and shouting, “What the hell is going on around here?” 

 

If you enjoyed this post, you’ll also like these:

 

The Meaning of Life
How to Think Like a Genius
Knowledge and Learning
Biker Philosophy
My Tweets About Philosophy 

 

 


%d bloggers like this: