Wednesday, July 20, 2016

A Necessity of Meaning

I’m the sole arbiter of meaning in my life.  My life is meaningful because I get out of bed each morning and choose it be so. That doesn’t mean it’s simple.  Choice is important, but my choices still leave a lot unaccounted for. Creating meaning is hard work and some days I lose the battle for meaning and fall into a dark existential slump.  If I wish to face the stark reality of probability life is contingent and mindless contingency is no flatterer of human ego.  Reality: there may be no special plan for me. I still affirm life.
The universe or God may not give two-shits that I exist. Maybe there is no sentience outside of us little marginally self-aware beings - two-legged, four-legged, winged, finned and tentacled, and the universe just happens to exist for reasons we can’t quite grapple with yet or ever. We may never know. Just because we feel that there must be a reason for “all of this” doesn’t mean there is. It doesn’t mean there isn’t either.  I choose to see a reason. Therefore I need to create meaning. If that seems artificial to you I don’t know what to tell you.
I’m a human being. I see patterns and assume intelligence is behind them. I see significance in correlatable, but random events. My self-importance spurs me to believe that I’m the center of the universe even as I recognize the egoism of that belief. Logic and reason is great and beautiful. I choose to live by what I call the light of reason as often as it is humanly possible for a man of my limited intellect.  I still need the daemons and the ghosts of my ancestors whirling around me in the midst of the night watch. I have to believe that there is a power greater than myself watching over me even if that isn’t true…most likely not true at all.
I’m also a being of great emotions. Logic and critical thinking are not always enough. I need magic and miracles: give me liturgy, psalms, poetry and great works of art and literature. Encode the working of my subconscious in archetypes and psychodrama. I love symbols. Give me Christ on a cracker – literally – and a small sip of wine.  I love scripture.  I love sacrament. Some days I choose mysticism over logic. The pull of the irrational unknown is unbearable at times.
Perhaps, these yearnings are simply the testament to the power of indoctrination. The Jesuits had a motto that read, give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man. I was indoctrinated young with catechism classes starting in kindergarten.  Indoctrination is not necessarily brainwashing if you teach critical thinking skills. Dogmatic thinking seems rather dangerous to me. I struggle against this perverse, soul killing rigidity within myself daily  I can’t shake this feeling that the world is being stomped to death under the jackboots of “isms” and “ologies” including the ones I hold dear – maybe, especially the ones I hold dear because these are the ones that I might be able to do something about.
I understand the principal that says that what I deem significant or portentous is often just the current direction of my attention. I always think of the very first brand new car I bought – a red Nissan Sentra. I’d never noticed Sentras before, but suddenly everyone was driving them.

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