Sep. 17th, 2013

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Following on from yesterday's post about pushing rocks uphill, I thought it might be worth reflecting upon the idea of setting goals and working towards them – in short, leading a purpose-driven life. I don’t mean this in the sense elucidated by Rick Warren in his infamous book, obviously – even if I thought my life had a single overarching purpose, it wouldn’t be anything to do with a supernatural god. It does seem, though, that as humans we are obsessed with purpose, with needing to know, “What’s the point of it all?” I think the metaphor of continually pushing the rock uphill, only to watch it roll back down again, is very fitting for the kind of life that consists in being constantly driven to achieve - no sooner is one goal reached than it’s time to start striving towards the next.

This is not to say that there aren’t things we generally feel we need and want to do in life. Obviously the business of living makes its own demands upon our time and effort; but this is just maintenance. After our various fashions, we work, eat, sleep and keep ourselves clothed and sheltered because we have to do those things to keep ourselves alive.

So what’s it all for? This is the question that has kept philosophers thinking and theologians ranting for millennia. The thing is, it's hard to see what the ultimate purpose of life could possibly be, especially if it's true that there's no god and no afterlife. If this life is really all we get, if we have no final purpose to work towards, maybe it is all just a big old waste of time, at least from a cosmic perspective.

If it is, though, is that something that really should trouble us? Maybe the question of life's purpose is as ultimately meaningless as it is unanswerable - at least for those of us without a preprogrammed religious response to hand. Perhaps it's the case that there's no other reason for us to be here than "just because." Where to go from there will be the subject for at least another post or two.

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dormant_dragon

October 2013

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