When I first heard the phrase “life is empty and meaningless” it actually gave me hope. It let me out of a lifelong bind where I was forever searching for the meaning of life. Yet despite that flash of clarity, I have continued my search. The number 42 has represented a sign of hope. By a stroke of irony on my 42nd birthday, my then old and sick partner had a high fever and delirium that meant on that wet and rainy day I had to call an ambulance, who had to call the local fire brigade for backup, and six men in muddy boots carried Ian past the birthday bunting and across the plank to the ambulance and then to hospital where the wonders of modern medicine saved his life for that day.
Yet even such clear messages have not diminished my quest to find meaning in life .. almost like the quest itself is what has given my life sense of purpose.
I saw the other day that I have posted 42 posts on this blog. Given my affinity for this number, I had to reflect on it’s significance, since this blog is really part of my quest for meaning. This is the answer I have come to in the past few years – life is about connection.
I’m sure I could circle around this topic endlessly. If I think of the times in life I have truly felt a sense of peace, it is those moments I have felt truly connected – be it to a person, to nature, to the divine or to myself. And in fact this blog is really about connection. My life has revolved very much around a desire to disconnect, particularly from people, which in my experience have caused mostly pain, confusion and loss of self. But as I’ve been diving into pushing myself into connection and have become present to feelings, mostly bad, but feelings all the same, and with those feelings a sense of being alive.
It was some good feelings that gave me hope, that made me feel alive. I was bolstered by a rare sense of hope. But then those hopes got dashed and the dreams I’d had became a hopeless wreckage. And so I’ve been rebuilding my ship, taking care not to get too lost in my head, to allow myself to feel more grounded, and to learn to be with the bad feelings and express myself rather than wasting my life away through escape.
In fact, I have been living my life as though there IS some meaning except I am yet to find it. I believe the bigger explanation to the statement that ‘life is empty and meaningless’ is that WE attach meaning to life. It just IS. And this very much relates to my overly cerebral way of experiencing and understanding the world. Thankfully, I have also pushed myself to be very physical in my life. I think it is my saving grace. Martial arts, which I’ve been drawn to out of my hyper vigilant need to protect myself on solo adventures, have allowed me to connect to myself and others. Swimming and cycling have been my main other forms of being in my body. Yet even as I think of these I realise that each give me scope to think at the same time. But a big lesson that aikido continues to bring me is that I need to ‘not think’ in order to act, since thinking slows me down and has me get stuck in confusion.
Perhaps the big lesson for me in this lifetime is around being rather than thinking.
‘I am therefore I am’.
No wonder I’ve made myself so confused .. trying to think my way to clarity when the answer is simply ‘to be’. And perhaps therein lies the challenge .. how to be.
My life has been a solo exploration. I believe my drive for solo exploration has come about through a combination of personality and life experience. The curiosity was always there. The feeling of being alone likely came from feeling misunderstood as a child. The sense of being lost and confused probably came from an overactive mind along with an invalidation of my feelings that had me unsure what I thought or felt about anything. My independence – most likely from both genes and early modelling. The outcome .. a lost, confused, constantly searching and exploring mind, embracing the lostness and aloneness as though it was something I desired, but leading me further and further into a state of complete hopelessness.
Finding my way
Feeling my feelings and expressing them to others (rather than cutting off from feelings and endlessly talking to myself) has been a path I’ve been walking that has also been like climbing out of a deep dark hole. It’s a rocky path, but I have a sense of hope. Deep down, or maybe closer to the surface, I know that I’m not alone .. and yet alone at the same time. That’s life.