I have been doing a lot of reading of philosophy lately, specifically around the concept of existentialism.
The dry definition of existentialism is "a philosophical theory or approach that emphasizes the existence of the individual person as a free and responsible agent determining their own development through acts of the will."
I prefer the more generalized definition, which is that existentialism is a 20th century philosophy concerned with issues about how and whether life has meaning, and why we exist.
The concept fascinates me. I think about it a lot.
Why the hell am I here? How has my life turned out the way it has? What is the point of struggling, struggling, struggling, only to die?
Recently I have scaled back my ruminations.
I will never know why I exist, and I will only discover if there is some reality greater than myself, on the day that I die.
I am not in a hurry to get that answer.
I am now defining the meaning of my life on a personal level by what I do with it from here.
Carol, Keith, Emily, Craig, Karen and Eddie are the meaning of my life on a very deep level. But I do believe that I exist to "do" something with my life. It would be a shameful waste of my time on earth to not do what I was born to do.
I have the advantage of knowing what I was born to do. Many don't. I am lucky that way.
Many - I would argue most - wander through life in abject desperation knowing that all they have in store for them is decades of meaningless work, financial struggle and death.
The only meaning for their life is to stay alive, even though that approach defies logic. I question the wisdom of enduring a sad and painful and hopeless life only to avoid death, which is inevitable anyway.
That is not enough for me.
I know what I was born to do. I just haven't done it yet.
The belief that I can still achieve what I was born to achieve is the only thing, on a soul-deep level, that keeps me going.
Of course I want to stick around to see how my sons lives and the lives of their ladies unfold; of course I want to spend as much time as possible with my magical wife; of course I want to be around to see my brother rebound and ultimately triumph as he deserves.
But in my heart, in my mind, in my soul - relative to my own life as it stands alone - between now and the grave - I have to make my mark as it was meant to be made. Otherwise I will have pissed it all away.
That would be embarrassing. That would be the worst sin a human can commit.
I am not in the mood for that.