Musing about the meaning

Stating the obvious, it’s been a while since I last posted anything on this collection of thoughts and verbal ramblings; in fact, it’s been two months and fourteen days to be exact. In some perverse way, that thought makes me quite satisfied, as I never wanted to feel obligated to post on any kind of a regular schedule or feel pressured to come up with material I deemed worthy of uploading. Frankly, I think there are probably about seven people who give a shit about anything I post here (and that’s a generous estimate), so feeling any kind of self-imposed obligation to blog with regularity is quite silly. That being said, the evening has seemingly conspired to create the perfect storm for the next installment of my scribblings, the ingredients of said storm being chiefly the following:

  • My plans for the evening were canceled, and I am home alone with no agenda.
  • I am currently two pints deep in a growler of Dangerous Man IPA, which I of course intend to finish tonight.
  • I had a minor panic attack about turning twenty-seven in December and having accomplished so little of what I thought I would have at this point in life, and it launched me into a series of sessions of serious introspection…there are a lot of thoughts swirling around in this ol’ brain.
  • Most importantly, I tend to write when life isn’t going so well, and for the first time in the last three months, it’s not. I blew my ankle apart five days ago playing soccer with five year olds (turns out climbing is the safest thing I do). It’s not broken, but I can’t climb, run, or do anything else except limp on it for the next 4-6 weeks according to the doctor. With plane tickets purchased and plans made for a climbing trip to Cody, Wyoming over Christmas and New Years, and to the Swiss Alps in February, I can’t push against that prognosis and risk further injury.

So with that in mind, let us embark on a journey through the tangled mess that is my mind. Disclaimer: this post, as entertaining, thought-provoking, or concerning as it may be to you, dear reader, is all about me. I almost invariably put a lot of time and energy into ensuring that a post will be at least well-structured and void of grammatical/syntax errors, but I really don’t care on this one. I’m after a cathartic, mind-emptying, soul-cleansing experience for me. If you get something out of it, that’s great.

I have been thinking a lot lately about death and dying. It’s no chance mental voyage into morbidity, nor is it a sign of suicidal tendencies or a cry for attention. It is simply a reflection on mortality brought about by current and recent life circumstances. I have lost relatives and friends, the passing of some of whom I grieved. The others I met with a clinical curiosity and a false portrayal of sorrow to fulfill societal expectations of a proper human reaction. I have lost friends and acquaintances to the mountains, all of whom I grieved – some personally and some as a part of the climbing community – but all of whom I learned from so as to not repeat the choices and mistakes that got them killed. And I am currently in the process of losing people that I love and care about deeply; some to old age, some to sickness, others to unhealthy lifestyles, and still others to a high-risk lifestyle that is unsustainable and quite predictable in its ending.

Amidst all the pain, tears, and shit that is generally intrinsic to the aforementioned circumstances, one question rises stark and contrasted in my mind: so what’s the point? What am I to say to those who question the validity of what I consider a life well lived? And how should I comfort those who grieve over a life I secretly scorn as a life wasted in timidity? What’s the answer, the meaning, the reason behind the individual human existence?

Opinions and answers are out there, usually as various as those polled for a response. Very often the questioned will reference their religion’s version of a higher power as they struggle to formulate an articulate one dollar answer to a million dollar query; the results are typically either vague or sound packaged and insincere. To me, both produce the same mental reaction as drinking a cheap beer…they tend toward the genuine, but fail to satisfy.

Others try to build a meaningful existence on the foundation of being a good, contributing, kind member of society – a kind of hybrid between the “Golden Rule” and a “Leave It To Beaver” life. Surely there is nothing wrong with this philosophy; a life based on it doubtless tends to produce humans with a proclivity to be generally decent people. However, although being a decent person is an admirable aspiration, an existence rooted solely in that endeavor makes me cringe, for it seems to reek of blandness and be sorely lacking in adventure and risk.

Still others believe that they are on this earth to burn brightly until they burn out – to risk, fail, achieve, adventure, and inspire others, and to do those things in a continual frenzy and in no particular order. In my own experience, many who hold to this credo put no stock in any kind of a continuance after death, so they tend to seek to maximize every minute they have on this ball of mud we call home. This brand of life walks hand in hand with existentialism in many ways (or if you strictly adhere to Group 1 or 2, you might say irresponsibility).

Do you know what I believe, what view I adhere to? Nope, you don’t; you couldn’t. First, I don’t think most people – myself included – fit neatly into any one of these three boxes, or the six, eight, or eighty boxes I could have probably come up with if I had more time and a clearer head. I would postulate that most people have a complex hybrid of beliefs that comprise their personal reason for existence. And second, I’m still trying to figure it all out myself. I do know that the last twelve months have been a whirlwind of self-discovery, and that I have benefited greatly from being immersed into situations and circumstances that have forced a lot of introspection to maintain my sanity. I know things now about who I am, what I want, and what I’ll never give up that I simply didn’t and couldn’t know six years ago…and for that knowledge (and despite the price paid for it) I’m grateful.

Not the most graceful of finishes, but that’s all I have. Let me know if you found it interesting.