The Meaning of Life.

The more I learn about the humankind, both in health and disease state, the more it seems meaning of life resides in love and relationship. In the era of postmodernity of course not all will agree; some will want to insist that meaning of life is primarily individual affair and the search for meaning is personal. But lets assume for a moment that it is a personal affair; is it possible to have any sort of meaning about anything if one finds themselves on a deserted island? Tom Hanks in the movie Cast Away finds himself desperately needing a companion and forms a relationship with volleyball called Wilson. At one point in the movie, Wilson gets carried away by the wave far into the sea, Tom Hanks risks his life to rescue the volleyball Wilson. For Tom Hanks in the movie the meaning came from the relationship ( or maybe even some kind of love) he had cultivated with the ball. Nothing else in isolation give him any meaning, he would rather have died than to lose Wilson; even the natural beauty of the Island had no meaning of him.

Cast Away

Cast Away (Photo credit: .noir photographer)

What if we created out of love for another a space in which she/he could flourish, and the other, in reciprocity, did the same for you.Then fulfillment of each becomes a reason for the fulfillment of the other. Surely, most would be at their best in this situation; rather than individualist who fail to see life as a common or reciprocal activity.

Terry Eagleton in his book ” The Meaning of Life – A very short introduction ”  give an image of loving relationship with example of a jazz group. He write…

” A jazz group which is improvising obviously differs from a symphony orchestra,since to a large extent each member is free to express herself as she likes. But she does so with a receptive sensitivity to the self- expressive performances of the other musicians. The complex harmony they fashion comes not from playing from a collective score, but from the free musical expression of each member acting as the basis for the free expression of the others. As each player grows more musically eloquent, the other draw inspiration from this and are spurred to greater heights. There is no conflict here between freedom and the ‘good of the whole’, yet the image is the reverse of totalitarian. Though each performer contributes to ‘ the greater good of the whole’, she does not by some grim-lipped self- sacrifice but simply by expressing herself. There is self-realization, but only through a loss of self in the music as a whole. There is achievement, but it is not a question of self- aggrandizing success. Instead, the achievement – the music itself- acts as a medium of relationship among the performers. There is pleasure to be reaped from this artistry, and – since there is a free fulfillment or realization of powers- there is also happiness in the sense of flourishing. Because this flourishing is reciprocal, we can even speak, remotely and analogically, of a kind of love.”

Living and thinking this way of being, would certainly give meaning to my life and I would even go further and say we will realize our natures at their finest. Of course one could also lead a life of achievement and philanthropy; that too will  give meaning to life. But I believe there will be some incommunicable yearning for something more.

Pondering the meaning of life, for sure.


The Meaning of Life – A very short introduction  By Terry Eagleton

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1 Comment

  1. Lorie

     /  March 24, 2012

    Love that jazz …. 🙂 wonderful analogy!


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