What is the true meaning of life? I have pondered this many times, often boarding the train of thought, “What is the actual point of living?”
Well, guess what. I’ve found it, but do you really want to know?
No-one reads content anymore, but we all want to know how to feel content. An awkward and cringe-worthy intro perhaps, but I’m going with it, and I’m even going to follow it with a big boast of never has a truer word been written.
We all want to be content and happy, but we have turned into a society of ‘skimmers’ and ‘glossers’. We’re in too much of a hurry, and too consumed with our own thoughts and lives to really read or listen to what others have to say, especially when it comes to advice from the much older generation, and I mean the much older ones. The ones near the end of their time on earth, not just the next generation up.
A lot of elderly people know what they are talking about – listen to them. They try and pass on their acquired wisdom and epiphanies, but usually get labelled as “doddery old fools”. The folly and pride of youth prevails, every time, and so the mystery of life continues.
It seems that all we really want in life is a quick fix and some filtered pics; a fact that was eloquently pointed out by my esteemed associate @copywritertay only the other day, but if you read to the end of this, I promise that it won’t be time wasted. I really do think that I’ve sussed out the meaning of life.
It’s not what you think
It’s not walking barefoot, however, though that’s a good guess, and it’s not going to cost you anything, but a couple of minutes of your time. You may well find yourself affronted and offended … but it may just change your life.
I definitely know what the meaning of life isn’t. It isn’t being thin or beautiful. It isn’t money and it’s not things. I have no money, but I do have hundreds of things that I have lovingly collected/hoarded over the last 30 years. These things make great content, as such, but they do not make me truly happy, and are actually quite pointless. It’s just a load of old stuff that my children will have to get rid of when I die. At least it might make them some pocket money, or maybe even enough to cover my funeral!
It’s also not loving someone, or being a parent. These things can bring joy and fulfilment, but they can also cause pain, frustration and self-loathing. They are not a reason for being. Living through another, or placing the onus on someone else or somebody else’s achievements to make you happy, does not work. It is selfish and possibly psychologically damaging.
No, the meaning of life is a lot simpler and a lot more straightforward than you think considering that it is a question asked by many, the world over, over and over again.
I am not a religious person, spiritual perhaps at a push, but not religious, and yet I am jealous of people that are religious. Not because I want to find God, not at all, but because they have this blind, unyielding faith in stories. They believe in something so strongly that it gives their life meaning, however far-fetched that belief might be. (As an aside, as far as I’m concerned, if there is a God, I don’t think he/she would condemn anyone for not believing in them.)
No, for me religion is a fairy tale, a controlling device made up by people who could write, to help or hinder, and to explain things that were inexplicable to the uneducated. I tell my boys as much too, whilst their school tries to intoxicate them with Christian stories. Thunder was the roar of the angry gods. The locust infestation was human misdemeanour being punished. You’re on this earth, not to enjoy or be true to yourself, but because you’ll get your rewards sitting up on a cloud in the sky, looking down on the rest of us.
Nah, sorry. I don’t buy it.
But I’m still jealous of the fact that they believe in it. I’m jealous of the old lady who goes to do the flowers at the church every Sunday, and I’m really jealous of the fact that this simple act is enough for her. She’s happy. It gives her life joy.
When I was young, I walked on my toes, and loved having nothing on my feet. I thought it was because I did a lot of ballet, but apparently it is a common sign of Autism. I’ve been told many times that I am unfeeling, “cold as ice” even, and that I say strange things, and ask inappropriate questions that seem quite normal to me. As a child, I used to measure whether I loved someone or not by imagining how upset I might be if they died. A lack of empathy, or undiagnosed Autism could be the reason why, but I also have an annoying trait of having to work out everything for myself. I must completely understand something to accept it, step by step. I just won’t be told, I need evidence!
I kind of wish we’d never gone down that road
My seven-year-old son walks on his toes too, and has a similar ‘non-believer’ attitude. He is already out-arguing my logic… and I’m excruciatingly logical. You should have seen his incredulous and doubting young face when we first told him about Father Christmas’ existence and job description! I kind of wish we’d never gone down that road though, because not only did the lying feel wrong at the time, but now he really wants to believe in him, just like his younger brother unquestioningly does, although he was also a bit suspicious at first too. The older one will either be absolutely devastated, and feel totally betrayed when he does find out the truth, or he’ll just shrug and say “Knew it”.
You can tell a lot about a person from their socks
When we are born, naturally, we are naked. All parents will know that when you try and put socks on a baby, they don’t like it. They are constantly taking them off, curling their toes and trying to free their feet. (You can actually tell a lot about people from their socks. Parents with money and time, or good time-management skills I should say, have young children with matching socks. When adults’ socks don’t match, they either don’t care, or are highly unorganised, or more often than not, both!)
When my children, and my partner, first get in from school/work, the first thing they all do is to take off their non-matching socks. They are all yet to fathom where the laundry basket lives (it hasn’t moved in 3 years!), but that’s an issue for my next month’s blog, The Motherhood of Man (out the first week of June). Meghan … write it in your diary.
When I put socks on my seven year old (he still can’t do it for himself properly) his toes instantly curl in discomfort. Part of this is because he is hyper-sensitive; he feels and searches for things and interesting textures with his feet, but partly because it doesn’t feel natural.
When we buy our children their first pair of shoes, with the specially-designed soft sole, they look at you with utter confusion, and proceed to do a kind of goose-step type duck walk. Instinctively, it doesn’t feel right to them. We are encasing their feet in a brace, a trap, but because of the proud look on their parents’ faces, it’s accepted and celebrated.
From this moment onward, we are encouraged to encase our feet, and instantly, we lose our connection with the earth. Our instincts are capped.
When we run in bare feet, we run differently. @theurbanbarefoot explains this much better than me, but with shock-absorbing trainers that are designed for running, we run heel first. This creates all sorts of issues, shin splints, bad knees, arthritis, the list goes on … but naturally, and in bare feet, or shoes made to feel like bare feet, we run flat-footed or on our toes. Think Zola Budd.
There are other celebrities who advocate barefoot walking, Matthew Mcconaughey, Sandie Shaw, Joss Stone … they are all bunched into the ‘a bit weird’ bracket or labelled as ‘Hippies’.
They may be a bit weird, who knows, who cares, but they embrace a bohemian lifestyle and hippy ideals where they are in tune with the earth. They know the simple joy of having nothing on their feet, with the bare earth touching their skin. It is grounding, clarifying and feeds your inner being. But it’s not the meaning of life – no, that would be too simple.
” “I really regret working out” … said almost no-one ever!””
I went for my barefoot walk this morning. It was cold and I haven’t been for a little while because the weather wasn’t great, and I was also feeling a bit under the weather too. The words of my friend @sammiepilatesandcore came into my head, and she’s just won a Women’s Wellness Coach of the Year, so she knows a bit. She said in a post, ” “I really regret working out” … said almost no-one ever!””
CHanneLling my inner Barbara
So, off came my shoes and socks half way round my walk. (I needed to warm up a bit first.) Up to this point, my mind had been racing, words were flying around my head for this blog, and I was desperate to get back home and start writing. As a writer, this is of course great, but the moment I took off my footwear and placed my feet on the wet sand, it was like a switch went off in my head. I stopped thinking, and was just there, where I was, in the moment. I looked around me and the sun came out, shimmering on the water, the cliffs in the distance were as clear as day, and I could see the buildings on the isle of Lundy on the horizon. The words, “If you are not in the moment, there is a lack of truth.” said by Barbara Streisand on Radio Two recently, jumped into my head, and she was right.
At that moment of clarity, I knew that the beach is my church and nature sings the hymns, leads me and preaches to me. Cliched, I know, but as I watched the waves coming in and going out, the same way they have done since dinosaurs roamed the earth, the same way that they will tomorrow, and the next day, and the next (well, as long as humans get their act together and don’t ruin it all), I knew that at 47 I had actually found out the meaning of life. But it wasn’t just this.
My mind is rarely silent
My constantly whirling mind soon kicked in again. I narrate my own actions, don’t you? “Her head spun quickly round at the sound of a car revving impatiently behind her”, that kind of thing, and I always wake up with a song in my head. My mind is very rarely silent.
Anyway, the truth is that barefoot walking, being in your happy place, calmness, yoga, mindfulness, having a belief in something, The Law of Attraction, anything in the ‘zen’ zone … all of these things are merely tools for discovering what the meaning of life is.
So what is the true meaning of life, I hear you shout impatiently? #quickfix
The meaning of life is simply to find meaning within your own life. You have to find your own personal purpose, your reason for being here. Because you are here for a reason, and if that reason is to eradicate world poverty, to devise a way to rid the world of plastic, to write a book, learn to surf, rebuild a vintage car, knit, run, swim, paint, sculpt, dance, write songs, learn to play an instrument, learn pottery, to help others, to start a campaign, gardening, wood-turning, upholstery, poetry, or simply to rearrange the flowers in the church every Sunday, if it makes you truly happy, is not all-consuming and harmful, and importantly, doesn’t make others unhappy, then that is your purpose in life. That is your reason for being. Life is your destination, and if reincarnation exists, so what? You won’t remember your last life anyway, so happy days; carte blanche as a cat and just sleep a lot!
Heaven is a place on earth
Make the most of your life on this planet, now, while you are here. In the words of another songstress, Heaven is a place on earth, right now. You are alive. Stop being scared, take off shoes and harness that energy, infuse that clarity, find your purpose and your place within the human race. It’s something different for everyone, and therein lies the rub. It’s up to you to find out what it is, but find it you will. You just have to look.
So that’s it. That’s the meaning of life. Basically a hobby, but if you can take that hobby and make it your life’s work, without tarnishing it, without letting it run away or get too big, cause harm, and without ruining the joy that it brings you, then you, my friend, have life well and truly sussed.