A friend inspired me with a question recently: Do I ever wonder what the point is to all that we do?
I think she was referring to the medical profession specifically. But I extrapolated the question to life in general. What is the point?
We live and then eventually we die. And then at some point all the people that ever remembered us in our death die too. And then we are gone. We no longer exist, even in memory.
Maybe we come back as something else. I like that idea – that our souls return to another body. I like to think of mine coming back as an albatross. I can’t think of anything more liberating than crossing entire oceans on a three-metre wingspan. Or maybe as one of the oak trees lining the street of my childhood home.
But maybe that is not what happens. Maybe we go to heaven. Maybe heaven is a universal place – the same for everyone. Or maybe we each have our own personal nirvana.
Or maybe nothing. I don’t know the answer. I don’t know what the ultimate meaning behind this journey is. I don’t know what the point is. None of us truly do. But that is kind of depressing, so we make our own meaning.
We make friends and we eat buttery croissants with them on corner cafes. We learn new languages; just for the fun of it. We kiss strangers and we fall in love. We listen to music with lyrics that voice all the things we feel but can’t find the words for. We read novels. We recite poetry. We make art and we invent things. The telephone; light bulbs; metal machines that fly. We climb mountains; we dance; we marvel at the sky changing colour every evening like it’s something that has never happened before. We spend hundreds on bottles of champagne just to taste the stars. We take a few extra minutes each morning to grind our own coffee beans. We plant flowers in gardens and watch children play and stare at the sky during thunderstorms.
No one knows what the point really is but, in some way, or other we fill this precious life with reasons to go on. And we go on.
There is a quote from one of my favourite books, The Dead Poet’s Society, that I think of often:
“Medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.”
And that, I think, is the point.