The Purpose of Life (a dialogue)
I reference my friend Stephanie a lot... but it's because she's one of the most interesting people I know and I feel really lucky that she's in my life. Stephanie's a bit of a renaissance woman and possesses a lot of knowledge about a lot of different things:
These are things that I think are pretty cool too and so it's fascinating to learn more.
She's insightful and she makes me think and as much as she supports me on stupid personal stuff that I do, she'll argue an historical, metaphysical or personal belief right to the core.
Just lately, she made me think about, of all things..."The Purpose of Life". Now I share it with you. This is a conversation I'd love to have with all people, everywhere. What do you think? What do you believe?
"What's the meaning of life? Why are we here? What is the point of it all?
In the simplest and most straightforward terms, there is only one purpose to life, only one reason for living things to exist, and that is to procreate: To pass on its genetic code to a subsequent generation. From the simplest unicellular life form to the largest and most complex. Beyond this one simple imperitive, there is nothing more -- other than that which we have created for ourselves.
Human evolution took the route that invested in curiosity and intellect above brawn, claws, et cetera. This helped us survive when times were tough and being wiley and crafty could mean the difference between life and death. When times were good however (excellent weather, abundant crops, abundant game animals) then survival became easier, and we did not evolve / were not adapted to the easy life. Without a constant life or death struggle to keep us busy, we were easily bored and put our big brains to work on other things - agriculture and language, to begin with. This led to regular surpluses of food, which in turn led to more time to be bored and think, so we created society, leading ultimately to civilization.
At the most base level, we're not designed for all the complications we have created for ourselves. We're meant to live long enough to ensure the survival of the next generation. Roughly speaking, 15 to 18 years to start creating the next generation, then a further 10 years or so to make sure they'll survive. 30 years at the outside. This was the average life expectancy prior to the discoveries and inventions that led to modern medicine and understanding of health.
I'm not saying there's no such thing as all-powerful godlike things, call them what you will. The human mind is powerful and when you get a lot of them focused on something, who knows what can happen. Thoughts are things, maybe faith really can move mountains. That's not what I'm talking about anyways. Just at it's root core, the meaning of life.
It is to make more life and nothing else.
Money, taxes, work, war, strife, turmoil, stress, et cetrea, ad nauseum, are all things we have invented to keep ourselves -- to keep our minds occupied, while we're passing on our genetic code.
For an alternative viewpoint, look at dolphins - they are intelligent and some scientists say they even have language. Yet to quote Douglas Adams, "all they do is spend their time frolicking around in the ocean." Does that make us smarter than them, or have we spent the last 10,000 years overcomplicating things?
"The meaning of life is to create more life... yes. How do you create meaning in your life? And is the life you create ONLY genetic material - or is life created with thought? Thoughts ARE things... are they not also life?
There is the life that is simply breathing. You could be comatose and still beget the next generation - it's happened, but could hardly be qualified as living. Then there is alive, which by my definition involves engagement and participation and a desire to expand. This is also life and is begetting life, but life on a different level than genetic material.
We are dissatisfied with simple survival. As human beings we do not generally want to sit and be comatose - we desire creation... of all types, on all levels. If it was just about procreation we would be happy to fuck, eat and sleep. Some of us do exactly that. For the vast majority though we desire to create. Create things, ideas, bonds, communications.... creation and the desire to create is universal and I would argue that creation is the purpose to life.
What is the meaning in your creation? I don't think meaning and purpose are the same at all. I think one is given and the other is created. Meaning, purpose and creation.... the new Trinity.
Thanks for making me think. I love you.
Take good care,
I've read your email over a few times, to let it sink in further, and rolled it around in my head, and I believe you've taken what I was thinking yesterday and shaken all the cynicism and dust off of it and given it back to me with a positive charge on it.
And now I'm going to whittle it down a bit further, and the core is even smaller and tidier than what I started with yesterday.
The meaning of life is to create.
Not procreate. Not make more life specifically. Just to make.
Create: create purpose, create meaning, create art, create beauty, create love, create life.
Creation itself is the meaning of life.
I like it.
I like it too.
I used to know her as Stephanie. She’s Violet now, obviously.