“What is the meaning of life?” pops up occasionally in casual conversation. Usually, the question creates a short laugh and we move on to more serious things to talk about, like things we have no control over but affect our lives. If nothing else rears its ugly head, like Trump, then the weather will do. Local weather is better especially if there might be skiable snow, but if it’s boring locally a distant hurricane, or tornado, or flood will suffice. The blab must go on, and on, and on ……..
One’s personal life does have meaning if other people are willing to show up at some place and time and interact with you. This is true even if the conversation is as trivial as illustrated in the previous paragraph. I mentioned this morning to a group of nine people that we shouldn’t be surprised if we were all dead in a thousand years. There was a comic shudder at my choice of such a large number because it was absurd, but then some of these people claim to believe in an afterlife in the form of an eternal spirit being.
Perhaps it is a simple reciprocal thing and if my life has meaning to you then your life has meaning to me. These mirror off on one another into an infinite regress of meaningfulness. If someone’s life has meaning to many people, like Steven Colbert’s life has meaning to many people, me included, then that person gets millions of mirrors cascading off into infinity. Perhaps not. Perhaps a person only gets these friendly reflections from those individuals with whom one really interacts and someone at a distant TV is just getting a one-way input. Colbert gets money from advertisers that are based on viewership, and an ego boost from knowing his years of preparation are finally paying the dividends for the characters he worked so hard to create.
One’s life has value if it is reciprocated by another being. Perhaps a dog will do. Perhaps dog is God.