Now that I mention the phrase, "The meaning in life", I note that we usually say "of life". It does make a difference.
Talking with a guy the other day, he chuckled some at my mention of "the meaning of life, reality, and everything else". I think I stole that from Douglas Adams, but am not sure. The guy's words on the topic elude me now, but he did mention a phrase out of Shakespeare, that "sound and fury, a tale told by an idiot" business. He seemed to be discounting the very idea of meaning in life? Then he "switched".
One hundred and eighty degrees astern we now go, as he talks on (quite a bit) about; "Those people who are just driven!". You've met those people, obnoxious, pushy bores. They are all of their lives just driving furiously. . . but in the end, to where? Like a broken toy that keeps working, but only to perform in very small circles, it "goes" nowhere.
I was not surprised by the cynical aspect of "A" nor by the dismissive turn of "B". But, what I was surprised at, was how almost identically he summarized my own (unaided) spin on this topic. For nearly all my life, his view and mine (my bias I mean) are twins separated at birth!
To me, life itself was basically "stupid". In brief, it was a pointless exercise. The vain hope that "getting serious" about participating in the hustle and bustle activity could somehow or another, "make up for" the fact that the thing had no inherent meaning seemed insane to me. Doing the pointless swifter and furiouser, this is improvement?
Our being confronted with the twins of meaningless reality, plus our "active push" in light of that is like a broken toy; or a telephone cord if you prefer. The spiral shape of the cord is us. The toy soldier ever marching in circles going nowhere, is us! We end up "getting in our own way" the circle is too small!
For these kinds of reasons, the book of Ecclesiastes was the only book in the Bible that made any sense at all to me when I was younger. Don't you think it's interesting too? Someone can (correctly) state that life itself had no meaning, while he must have simultaneously known that his assertion itself, could not (by definition!) have any meaning! It is like trying to step outside of a mirror.
Back at the old Albuquerque Sunport, there was a really great bathroom! You are standing there, at the lavatory washing up; looking into a full-sized mirror. But, behind you is another floor to ceiling looking glass. In "infinite recession" of your image, you keep trying to "see around yourself" in order to grasp how deep you go, but you are in the way of you! Echo images receding off into an unseeable distance, because we the viewer, are blocking the view. Soldiers of duty, marching in nowhere circles, telephone cords which keep getting wound tighter, never looser, never free-er? That is us!
My attitude was; "Talk about a weird universe! Wow, what a dump". For years, and decades, all I ever "wanted out of life", was simply, I wanted out, of life! Where in the heck is the EXIT sign around here? It's like a dream you can't wake up from, how do we escape this rat hole?
As human persons, I figure we are more or less forced by our own inner structure to endorse one of the twins. Either the cynical and depressed picture emerges, or it's "opposite" the self absorbed gung-ho bung hole emerges. We tire of flip-flopping between extremes, and then propose to "park" in the no-mans-land (supposed) middle option. Choose one, be certain only of death in reality, or dream the dream of personal meaning through glory, or keep a little of both and find a place in the mushy nice-guy syndrome "median". My "problem" has always been that I reject all three of the "options".
Now the "two-ness" and a proposed "three-ness" may be inescapable as an integrating model. I mean, our minds may well be constructed that way. But what is not set in concrete is what goes in the baskets. That is why in the title, it reads "in life" not of. Something, during, and in life, happened to me! People do change, but not willingly.
So, being a new-comer to thinking this way, finding meaning in but not of life, my views today shall necessarily appear naive or childish. I simply have not had enough time to mature in this area.
So, let's give it a shot! The first thing I think of then is that life itself is "the" gift. I mean by this, at least two things. One is, any gift (worth having) must be experienced or joined in or during life, so life itself, formats as central, gift-wise. The other is that since "eternal life" as the token of the Almighty's love-for and care concerning His own, formats as gift extraordinaire, the "lessor and proto-type" (life unto death) cannot logically be otherwise. But clearly, this view is from "inside an alien set". So, when your Mom gives you a Wayne Newton CD for your birthday, you are supposed to thank her? Only aliens would do that, and it's kinda like that.
This ethic of "thankfulness of" life makes no sense, but this says nothing at all about the possibility of being thankful in life. We look the gift horse in the mouth, and say with confidence: "Bad teeth".
If you, my lunatic neighbor; have a habit of handing me "the gift" of a bag of garbage every morning, would I thank you? And why then, when He above hands over the much much larger bag every day, are we to be thankful? Is the true ethic all about faking ourselves out?
Typically upon delivery of the bag, we try to ferret out "the good parts", trying at least for awhile, to thank for that stuff. But that tiny amount is never enough for us, and doesn't even begin to deal with the monstrous majority of "the remainder". Talk about grim, this "is" me, this "is" us!
We live in the era of clinical depression. Yet it is odd indeed (to me at least) that depression is never noticed to be what it is! It is an entirely accurate and correct estimate, it is the truthful mental and emotional revulsion at this very wreckage! If we insist upon the "of" option, the cynical-bossy opposition, with the nowhere nice guy as "solution", be prepared for a major bummer. It is in fact, very depressing, and depression is the honest estimate of things here. Nobody ever mentions that? So, we are to buy that making a horrible system better is achieved by lying about it? Not this gringo.
No, we need a new logic, a new feel, another framework in which it becomes true that we are authentically glad or thankful about the whole package, as it is actually lived. Somehow, somewhere, the unfairness, the frustration, rage and boredom, the foul-ups, confusion, and let's not forget the idiotic redundancy, and toss in the rest of that corrupted junk we first noted inside the bag are "received". Do we thereby affirm that lunacy is the framework of the mirrors back at the Sunport? Not at all!
A typical example is that your boss is a jackass and a cheapskate as well. Our normal framework of trying to find "the" meaning "of" life is a null set. Upon viewing the jerk, our waxing all "objective" and deriding his ways yields zero. Going to the opposite extreme, and starting your own business, simply makes you more like the fool he is. This is not progress, we are going backward! The usual third middle position, of simply being an apathetic doormat, and "saving up" the good times, for when we are off work, simply builds a ghetto for the problem to live in, while denying the truth of wreckage.
Life was never designed to be applied with an eye-dropper, gone all "Hollywood". If things are about "limits", then by definition, the "middle way" is about limiting the damage! A tiny dose of seriousness, then later a smidge of wry observation, finished up with a big dollop of good times, is structurally unsound, and only a nut builds houses that way. It's upside-down! The sanity of "receiving", the sanity of finding wholesomeness "in" life, is on another page.
We can never hope to arrive at the correct recipe for life by "balancing" various portions of poisonous ingredients. A bit of cynical arsenic, mixed with a spoonful of pushy cyanide, topped with the saccharine frosting of nowhere in the middle will always result in a rotten dinner. It was never about "balancing" mutually destructive errors upon a faulty fulcrum.
As a newbie, my grasp here is incomplete for sure, but let's go back to the boss episode for a test run of the alien system.
Using the two-ness and three-ness model we are so well suited to, step up to observe! Observe this, life, in and of itself, has no "meaning", let's say that up front. But who was the clown who suggested in the first place that it did? In the new model, the gift of life is given, thus "it" is not the point, He the Giver is! Since He is the point, and life is His gift, it with all it's sweaty misery becomes a sort of meeting ground, a rendezvous point between persons. If it truly is a tale told by an idiot, it yet remains the "place" we met! We value persons, not things nor systems, nor philosophies. Applied "backwards", since we can't see Him (we are in the way!) it "must be" infinitely more true of the Person(s) Himself. It was "in" this pain and misery we met!
Likewise with the pushy theory, that "making something of ourselves" anti-view. The tin soldier will march, but he needs a new leg. The apply yourself theory takes into account the tremendous damage done to us, and by us. At present, we have no choice but to march in circles, but nobody demands that the loops get smaller, tighter, and lower. They can also expand, and begin going uphill. The new thing in Earth is the Man who beat death! The alien system is that very lifey-ness itself now present in our decaying bodies! You can build, you can grow, you can improve, but not willingly! The way to freedom, is to be taken captive, the path to ascent is downward! The Man is announcing terms, (acceptable to Him) for unconditional surrender, and laying down our weapons. For us to receive such lowness, is to be raised. Very peculiar, that I had a glimmering of this for years, and can only now see the sanity involved.
The final leg then, can never be a "middle way". The spiral cord links the handset to phone itself. As they grow, it gets longer! Our constant throttling back, our trying to relax and let go, you know, finding that happy medium (?); is the worst of the bunch. The empty tomb is followed by a new kind of rocket fuel "observing" of Him going up! The new thing of an ex-stiff sitting down for fish and chips is the atom bomb which "pushes" us out into the graveyard of reality to meet the others! It was never a matter of mixing the two into a flavorless none-of-the-above inedible mess. It was the full tilt fire, the all out acceleration of both flavors simultaneously! Nobody could control those horses!. . . Well, there is One.
The paid lunatics running around peddling their sad little "unlimited human potential" have (apparently) never met The Unlimited Human. Potential was never the point, not any more than life was the point. He, my friend; is The Point. He is the One filling our lives up, until "there is too much". Net result? We get "bigger", and become more able to find Him amid the wreckage of a world we ruined.
It was illegal in the Law to complain, the converse of this is that it is recommended in Gospel to ask for faith. Simply speaking, we of ourselves, do not trust Him.
We change, but never willingly!