A Search for Meaninglessness

The death of my life mate — my soul mate — has posed such a conundrum for me that for the past sixteen months I’ve been questioning the meaning of my life. Life didn’t seem meaningless when he and I were together. I never felt as if I were wasting time no matter what we did — even something trivial like playing a game or watching a movie — so why do I feel I’m wasting time if I do those things alone? Don’t I have just as much worth now that I’m alone as I did when I was with him? Of course I do. It’s the things themselves that feel a waste. I feel as if I should be doing something significant. Something that has meaning. The problem is that very little seems meaningful. So much of life consists of basic survival tasks such as eating, sleeping, chores, paying bills, which are essentially meaningless (or meaninglessly essential). Even more meaningless are the things we do to kill time, such as playing computer solitaire, watching television, or writing blog posts.

When I was out walking in the desert recently, I had a revelation of sorts. I decided that if my life mate still exists somewhere, if he still has being, if life doesn’t end with death, then life has an inherent meaning — whatever we do or think or feel, no matter how trivial, has meaning because it adds to the Eternal Everything. If death brings nothing but oblivion, then there is no intrinsic meaning to life. So a search for meaning is meaningless (except on a practical level. We all need to feel we are doing something meaningful so we can get through our days and even thrive). Life either has meaning or it doesn’t. Meaning isn’t something to find but to be. So, I’m going to search for meaninglessness, or at least accept it.

Such thoughts seem as meaningless and as trivial as the rest of life. They get me knowhere. (I’m leaving that typo, because . . . wow! So perfect!) But I need to find the bedrock of life, a foundation on which to rebuild my life, and meaninglessness seems as good a place to start as any.

Rewinding My Life

I ended my last blog post with: And so I trudge the hills of grief, and treasure the moments of comfort I find. I meant it both figuratively and literally — I spend a couple of hours most days wandering in the desert hills near where I am staying.

I feel at times as if I am rewinding my life, our life. When the man I was to spend more than three decades with first came into my life, it was such an awesome change, that I felt restless. I would walk for hours trying to get used to this new vision (or version) of me. I wrote. And I read copiously. Now that he has left my life, it’s such a traumatic change that I feel restless. I walk for hours trying to get used to this new vision/version of me. Instead of walking through the tree-shaded parks and parkways of Denver, however, I tramp through the desert a thousand miles from where I started. Instead of poetry, I write prose. And I read copiously. These are the bookends of our shared life.

During the years of his illness, when I tried to imagine how it would be to live alone again after his death, I never imagined, never could imagine, the sheer void of his absence and with it, the absence of meaning. 

Before I met him, I used to wonder about the meaning of life. Now, once again, I am wondering about the meaning of life. I hadn’t realized until after he was gone that during all those years we were together, I didn’t worry about meaning. We were together. That was all that mattered. Now that I am alone once more, the void of meaningless haunts me. Where am I going? And why?

I did have a bit of revelation out in the desert the other day. Instead of a stroke of clarity, I might have had heat stroke, but the end result is still the same. I walked for hours along a path because I was curious where it went, curious to see what was around the next bend, and it occurred to me that this experience could be a metaphor for my life. Perhaps finding meaning isn’t important. Perhaps it’s enough simply to follow the days and see where they lead.

(If you’re interested in seeing the photos I take on my mystical walks, you can find them here: Wayword Wind.)