The Time of the Place
There’s no such thing as a waste of time.
Even those who have wasted most of it have learned the benefit of getting the most of their experiences and doing the right thing, albeit after the fact.
The bigger the waste (spending the rest of one’s life in jail after committing a stupid and heinous crime), the more we learn. Alternately, those who have always gotten the most out of their experiences may not realize this fact and therefore will always want more.
It is those in the middle, never seeming to do enough, though always managing to accomplish something, who truly appreciate the value of time. They are both productive and ineffectual. They experience sudden impulses to do things, but also suffer from a paralysis of analysis, or an inability to perform or function in light of the overwhelming possibilities.
I fall amongst those in the middle. I still can’t figure out what I want to do, because I’m not sure what I’m doing it for. What I need to know, before setting out on any career path, or committing myself to a life of servitude is… what’s it all for? What is the meaning of life? Which I have defined as that which does not change, and our existence as a basis in that which does not change. A sense of timelessness in a world which only seems to be speeding up, without which, anything we do will be meaningless. Goals, desires and ambitions satisfy us only to a point and often the reasons for pursuing these goals change or disappear before we have even achieved them.
Without a meaning of life we are merely living. Even inherently meaningful vocations such as being a teacher, a doctor or an aid worker can become meaningless if we’re not sure what were doing it for, and if we can’t answer a troubled or dying person’s own version of the question, ‘what is the meaning of life?’ then how are we helping them? We are only keeping them fed, keeping their heart pumping or their breath flowing, but ultimately there will be a final meal, a final beat, a final gasp of breath, but without the answer to that question ‘what is the meaning of life?’, it will seem meaningless, both for us and for them.
This question of meaning is closely aligned with that of teleology. Materialist scientists prefer to avoid this idea because not only does it require a first cause, but a final one, while spiritualists and idealists fully embrace it, deriving meaning from what we still don’t know.
Like the universe, everyone has a beginning – they are born – but it is another thing to have a conclusion, a successful and satisfying end.
To search for a conclusion is misleading though, because there is already an inherent meaning; a beginning, middle and end, in every experience, only this meaning is inward, rather than outward. As we have heard before, to search for that which is without nearly always ends in disappointment, it is like an open system whose entropy increases until it is completely used up, while to search for meaning inwardly is to always have it and never lose it, thus lowering entropy.
We are however, not a closed system, we can never outrun entropy, we will die, it is this knowledge that both drives us towards productivity, but also leisure and enjoyment. It is what allows us to get the most out of our experiences, and in this way we are all experts in what life means… to us.