A Life Without ‘Meaning’
‘Meaning’, we crave. Arbitrary significance we give our goals, metrics there are none, naught it will become, and universe goes on, without us. Our dreams and ideals, are but a mere delusion.
“Homo Eretus, Neanderthals, Homo Heidelbergensis” I pondered, “Why are we, homo Sapiens, the only species that went further than we needed to?” We split atoms, create metropolises around the world, fight diseases, and yet, did us homo sapiens become happier? To find out more about ourselves, we have to first understand that we are just an evolutionary branch of the tree of life — an animal. Just like how animals have their primal needs, we humans do too. We need emotional connection, physical exercises, a balanced diet, and many more amongst others, otherwise, we will suffer. Yet despite this, our ancestors have continuously cultivate a society deprived of these needs albeit we survive longer, and mortality rate has been the lowest it has ever been, and undoubtedly higher standards of living.
As someone who advocates for scientific pursuit, I cannot deny the fact that progress might have cause humans to be more unhappy. From foraging and hunting to buying from the supermarket, physical communication to the internet, communities to society, our primal instinct subdue, consumerism endless, and unlike any other species, humans are the only ones that crave for ‘meaning’.
With the agriculture revolution, alongside the subsequent progression of humankind, we have outlived ourselves. More time than ever was freed, allowing us to pursue interests unknown to other species, and our evolutionary desires easily obtained — Tinder for mating, Facebook for communication, supermarkets for food. We no longer have to try and work as hard as we did in the past.
Just like how tigers hunt, mate, and play, they seem to be content. They do not seem to do anything out of the ordinary outside of their own evolutionary desires. One can argue that tigers do not possess the necessary means to do what humans did — advance our society — yet neanderthals, who were capable of doing so, and lived thousands of years before humans, didn’t.
We arbitrary place meaning on the things we do. What good is doing anything when it all comes to an end after we die? There’s is no afterlife, we won’t know what will come to be of humankind, just like how before our birth, nothing was known to us, and yet, we struggle and fight for what we believe, for what we find significant. With society, what we once used to fulfill, we now have alternatives. Unlike animals who don’t have to question themselves on what to accomplish, we humans do. They breed, mate, to pass their genes. Whereas we have to find ourselves in society, and hopefully be lucky enough to pursue a career which we enjoy. We have become so distant from our primal selves to the point that many of us are feeling lost.
Life is meaningless, as our needs are met. We are no different from farm animals — our primal selves are repressed. But perhaps, life is worth living. Accomplishments might be arbitrary, standards deluded, but we are still given an opportunity to live, and we ought to make the full use of it. We will all die one day, so perhaps we ought to not chase ‘meaning’, but do things that make us happy, and reconnect with our primal selves without sacrificing the future away. We can also leave a more hospital, habitable, and loving place — one that will ease their burdens and unhappiness — for our future generations.