A Challenge For Meaning –WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
Meaning is something I have struggled with for most of my life. Despite facing my own bit of depression through my 20’s, I don’t mean this in a depressive way. Instead, I’ve always held a natural curiosity to understand the underlying motivations of things. I was constantly on the lookout to challenge and uncover the most basic, most foundational, and most primitive drivers in our choices and behaviours.
It’s this natural curiosity to understand the basics behind our existence that has forced my attention inwards to investigate more of myself. Trying to understand was one solution to help problem solve the onslaught of questions flooding my brain. More specifically, the act of trying itself became something crucial for my personal development in whichever way I applied it.
Trying to understand meant trying new things, and trying them with effort. What I found is that trying ourselves is the challenge to find meaning. But, we’ll get back to that last point later on.
Questions, always questions.
I have toiled in thought many times contemplating the origins of the universe, or plagued by some other teleological thought or theological argument. As such, I realized relatively early that there are no real answers for any of us.
That’s quite the nihilistic statement to make, but it’s complicated.
There are answers for us, but the extravagance of it all only leads to more questions at the tail end of whatever answer we uncover.
We can stir our mind into madness trying to figure out the world. Often time, the problem is too large and complicated to fathom as we expand our perspective into the global sphere and beyond.
Personally, I am reminded of the extreme bamboozlement I felt in university trying to piece together scientific concepts like the Big Bang theory.
“Right…” I thought.
“Modern physics makes sense right up to the point of singularity, and then things become highly convoluted and irrevocably misunderstood... So what banged?
How can all these experts imply something with such certainty only to find something even more uncertain on the other side? How can something ‘just explode into existence?
Surely there’s a catalyst…
What was the catalyst?… There must be a catalyst!”
Questions, questions, questions…. So many damn questions.
Sometime during the my 4th year, I recall watching a BBC/NOVA documentary called M-Theory and String theory. To spoil its conclusion, the aim was to highlight the concept of a multiverse.
M-theory or membrane theory goes on to describe our universe as a membrane that exists among a plethora of alternative membranes (other universes) that are ebbing, flowing, and colliding amongst each other.
With regards to the Big Bang, it is thus hypothesized that our universe has spawned from a collision of membranes/universes within the multiverse.
It also helps to refer to the multiverse as an arena of bubbles floating about. These bubbles ebb, flow, and collide all in the same. Alternatively, they can implode, explode, burst upon collision, or form new bubbles entirely.
Wait, tell me what banged again?
This documentary answered the deep yearning to find an answer, at least momentarily.
Clearly, according to theorists, the collision of universes in the multiverse banged up, creating our own as a by-product
“WHOAAAA!” I thought.
With that same stroke of enlightenment, I experienced a deep wave of depression wash over me in facing the infinite nature of it all.
The challenge for meaning became even more watery.
Okay, so now what?!
A question regarding the origins of earth turned into a question about the universe, before it became a question about the multiverse.
And surely, if and/or when humanity transcends itself and becomes somehow capable of peering into the multiverse for an answer on where that came from, we will only be facing the question of:
“Well where did ________ come from?”
We are too small to totally comprehend the plethora of existence beyond us. Thankfully, there is a word to describe this total inconceivable mass:
And that word is “God”.
People interpret GOD in so many different ways, but there are likely many similarities to draw between ideologies if you are so inclined to look.
Perhaps this is only my perspective, however, I make note to some of these interesting points and more in the crash course, Make it stick, Write it Down: A Journaled Philosophy.
Here is a little snippet to walk away with:
This is all relative from our perspective, and you can connect the dots anyway you can. But, how can we expand this out beyond us?
Again, relative to our perspective we are human beings. But, we can also perceive ourselves as bits of matter and space dust floating about an earthly plane that is composed of more bits of matter and space dust.
Synergistically, we are more complicated than the individual parts that comprise us, remember, as each layer of simplicity contributes to increased complexity with its repetition.
There is more to life than what we can see with just our eyes.
And while it may seem arbitrary to be expanding our thoughts into the subatomic world and the cosmos itself, it is worthwhile to connect as many dots between our physical world and their metaphysical undertones to truly comprehend life’s meaning for ourselves here and now.
So what are we, really?
We are cosmic beings –space dust.
With the focused experience on our modern world, we can often overlook at how miraculous our existence actually is.G. Kourtesiotis, Make It Stick, Write It Down Crash Course.
The Challenge: Meaning, and metaphysics.
Without going too far off down the field, I want to draw two things away from our conversation to take action on, meaning, and metaphysics.
- The meaning of something is what it expresses or represents.
- Importance or value.
- The part of philosophy that is about understanding existence and knowledge.
- Relating to the part of philosophy that is about understanding existence and knowledge.
The etymology behind the word metaphysics originates from the early Greek philosophers, which means ‘after the physics’. In my interpretation of it, it comes to refer to the nature of things beyond the physical realm.
After The Physics
For the sake of pinpointing this blog post, life is an experience of meaning whereas a meaningful life is a heavily debated metaphysical conversation. It is also highly subjective, because one persons deepest passions are another’s disinterest and indifference.
How many of you out there are avid stamp collectors; model train enthusiasts; soap carvers; geocachers; extreme componers; news raiders; fish noodlers; ghost hunters, etc…
Whether you are or you aren’t, there is no shortage of people to fill into their unique community, as there exists a whole host of people for and against such ways to spend their time.
If you know you know, but many of us will meet great challenge at some point through the course of our lives trying to understand our meaning. Sometimes it is left undiscovered, and other times it is only identified in our reflection of time as it lapses.
Sometimes, and quite possibly worst of all, we may fall victim to our own sense of purposelessness as we struggle with the maddening repetition of our own existence.
With regards to the latter, these are things that we come to refer to as the chores of life, which are things to embrace as they can help us clarify what we need to identify meaning as individuals.
Let’s Talk About It
With that in mind, we may continue struggling with the challenge to find any meaning in life if we don’t actively pursue our interests, or the slightest of interests if we haven’t figured out our likes in the most basic sense.
Depression, anxiety, hopelessness, fomo and all their ugly cousins are one hell of an experience. Not only does it feel like hell, but the emptiness and isolation we deeply feel really drags us down.
It might be difficult to find the motivation to do anything at all, and sometimes extremely so. What’s especially disheartening in such a depressive state is the the shallow disinterest and clouded perspective.
Under these circumstances, the approach toward personal bettering is to root ourselves into our complaints.
Really go ahead, bitch and moan about it!
Express all of your personal dissatisfactions to instigate a personal catharsis.
Hell, Littermature started that way.
I would jot down the poetry of my mind onto scrap pieces of paper scattered around my home, workplace, or Jeep. 5 years later, it became the foundation into my first self-published piece of literature:
I can’t tell you if it’s good or not, or if anyone truly appreciates it, but it’s extremely special to me as it reflects a time of great challenge and personal growth.
What Trying Is All About
It’s okay to visit some dark places, but we can’t make our living there— it’s too dark!
All in the same, we can identify, vent, and express our frustrations but we can’t make our life about it by passively bitching and moaning about our problems forever.
There must be a point in choosing to take some kind of forward action.
Life Is Outside
Life is lived, meaning that we do things day in and day out as they contribute to the meaning we create in our lives. If we eat and drink because we are hungry or thirsty, so too must we quench our callings based on what we aim to make of ourselves.
For that matter, trying is what it’s all about, trying ourselves to gather enough clarity as each endeavour bridges over into who we are.
Trying is physical and metaphysical (spiritual) in both respects. We physically delve into new endeavours or projects only to experience a deep spiritual revelation in our effort.
It’s not so easy however, because there are no guarantees to experience anything profound. If we are to learn anything at all, we must be aware of the process as it unfolds.
We Must Try. moreover, we must endure.
Endure, as in endurance. Something arduous that also takes us time to complete.
This step is important because our practice is our meditation. It is our trance in experience as the time spent trying with effort under stress allows us to sink and flow into the struggle in mind.
As such, we can uncover things in ourselves that have been left undiscovered, which is both valuable and liberating to experience. On this last note, we must do our best to remain patient, avoiding excessive force to illicit a speedy result.
For that matter, enlightenment is highly illusive.
When we try too hard to reach the pedestal above us, enlightenment eludes us. We can miss the experience entirely because our focus is on the wrong thing.
We must focus ourselves on the menial physical task(s) to ground us in the moment. Doing so means that we become firmly rooted in ground, whereas the enlightenment we yearn for is a by-product encompassing the enduring process as a whole.
This is what we can learn by trying ourselves with personal challenges. The struggle to achieve whatever goal/obstacle that we have set for ourselves can both humble and empower our spirit. It tests our mettle in ways that contribute to our resilience and overall life perspective for the better.
Personally, I can talk over any which way about how seeking challenge can steer us toward our life meaning, the Camino Pilgrimage being a cornerstone to my own experiential development, as it was one of the greatest challenges to reap meaning from.
Regardless, it’s one of those things that you must see and do on your own to witness its value. To sum it up:
You must live it to find out.
Patience in the Journey
Again, please be patient with yourself in your effort. Simply try your hand at the task, goal, or challenge that you have set out for yourself and keep at it with an open mind.
Maintain hope in the fact that you are working/trying for your goals without getting caught up on any self-imposed deadlines. Look forward to meeting your personal deterrents and choosing to keep taking forward progress in light of them.
wHat You’re Looking For Can’t Be Found.
“Grace” gets thrown around a lot.
I’ve talked with people who yearn for it because they haven’t found a way to feel it yet. From my own experience, grace can’t be found–It finds you.
Gratitude is always behind you. It shows itself in your moment when you’re ready to see it.
For me, being active gives me an opportunity to let beautiful moments find me where I am.
I’m out here doing regular things in regular places, yet beauty always has an opportunity to reveal itself to me.
I’m not looking for it, but with the little moments of grounding in my present, grace speaks to me. And for that, I am grateful.G. Kourtesiotis, November 2019. Post 20km run along the 99 Sea-to-Sky Highway in Whistler British Columbia.