In anticipation of the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ forthcoming I’m With You album, being released 8.30.11, I am listening to their discography from beginning to end. While Don’t Forget Me was playing I got stuck on the lyric, “all will be revealed, my friend” at the end of the song. It got me thinking about what and why something will be revealed. This is a hard topic to express, but I’m really going to try. Hang with me and post any questions in the comments.
Our interminable search for meaning
It goes without saying that as we live the day-to-day existence we experience side-effects of life that cause us problems and leave us scratching our head. It’s my guess that the most common of these is when bad things happen to good people just because almost all of us ask why that happens. Usually, I think it’s expressed more in the form of “why me?”, to which the universe replies, “why not?” Are we so important that we are even allowed to ask that question? Did you know that even Moses was going to get snuffed out by God before freeing the Jews from Egypt because he didn’t circumcise his son? So my thinking is if the liberator of an entire nation can be replaced then who are we, the common rabble, to complain when the proverbial shit hits our proverbial fan?
That said, when the inevitable bad things happen we struggle to assign meaning to them. We have to categorize it—nature abhors a vacuum and our mind can’t stand experiencing something it doesn’t know how to relate to. It’s very disturbing to experience a new event that evades meaning. This is why we experience denial when we are part of a tragedy, or that we will soon wake up to find the disaster to be only a terrible dream. Our tiny minds can’t fit the largeness of tragedy and disaster into three pounds of gray matter. The reason we spend so much time thinking and mourning is that we are struggling to come to grips with the event and place it within a frame of reference.
Sometimes this is done in the way of how the event will be used to move forward. Sometimes we assign things the importance of being a sign from God, or a portent to warn a person to change for the better. Sometimes our mind is incapable of assigning meaning to an event and it causes various levels of emotional and psychological distress.
Why do we think anything will be revealed one day?
Granted, not everyone thinks this, but I’m of the opinion that people are wired for faith. Before you jump to conclusions let me define what I mean by that. Don’t think of faith in the limited sense of religion, meditation, and spirituality for this post. For this example to work I have to broaden the definition to the belief in something we cannot prove. Here are some examples…
The religious aspect is the most obvious: billions of people believe in God, yet no one can prove God exists. People experience things that give them reason to believe, but the experience is personal and cannot be transferred to another human, especially a skeptical one, as proof. It just can’t be done.
For this instance I also posit that atheism is a matter of faith. While I’m certain many will balk at this thought, as surely as I cannot prove that God is real, an atheist cannot prove that God is not real. If someone could accomplish this feat, then religion would have been banished and done away with as quickly as Yahoo in favor of Google.
I’ll even go as far to say that the presence of our universe is a matter of faith. Now this is certainly a bold assertion, but even the closest star, Proxima Centauri, is still a staggering 4.2 light years away. This means that the newest light we see outside of our solar system is at least 4.2 years old. Sure, it’s been working out okay so far, but how much longer have we really got? Now expand this to the galaxies and suns we see that are hundreds of millions of light years away are, in a best case scenario, far from where we see them now, and in a worst case scenario, ceased to exist millennia ago once the universe began to collapse on itself again, or died out, or were eaten by some strange creature. We wouldn’t be any wiser if we are all alone in the universe and have simply been looking at interstellar ghosts. All that said, I’m no expert here, so if there’s someway to prove these things are still out there now please, by all means, tell me in the comments.
Finally, and the greatest stretch of them all, we don’t really see the things we interact with, just the light that reflects from them. On a quantum level particles never stop moving. Matter that is here now is gone in another moment to some other dimension. Matter is a scary thing—who knows what keeps us together.
With all of those examples I hope that I’ve expressed my idea that by nature people have faith. Specifically to all being revealed, to some degree, we all believe that one day our existence will make sense. The troubling things we’ve experienced will be understood, and as an old friend said a long time ago we will be able to stand back far enough from the tapestry of life to view the picture. Until then, we have faith and hope to help us make sense of the world around us.
So here we are against our will…
So here we are… a bunch of wet meatbags living on a big, wet ball floating in the dark. What makes us so special? Who are we to place meaning to our short questionably worth-while existence in the first place?!
I don’t know the answer to that one, but that’s what we do.
The great majority of humanity believes that there is something bigger than us, something that encompasses us, and something that defines us as more than a simple wet meatbag eking out a meager existence until we do the dirt dance. Somehow we got the idea that we mean something to someone (or something), somewhere.
So here we are… we have questions. We assign meaning to things that may or may not have the real meaning we give it. We ask questions about the reality we perceive and hope for something good or better to come out of the things we struggle to understand. In short, the world is a confusing place.
Or is it? What if our beliefs are simply our projection of our internal confusion to the external world in order to give meaning to the things that elude us, and the world is simply the world, void of meaning and purpose?
Where is the confusion? Where is the order and understanding? Is it in the world around us, or just us? Is the world confusing, or are we confused? Does our insistence on meaning make things harder than they really have to be?
What will be revealed?
I like to think that each life has a purpose. It’s easy to see that every person walking the earth makes an impact on his or her environment. A stone of any size thrown into a pond makes a ripple, and bigger stones make bigger ripples. I think of people the same way, but I think that those ripples don’t stop at the edge of the pond. They move into the greater mystery of eternity, judgment, and God. In my mind it has to be that there is something greater than us. Why else would we ask ourselves the meaning of things? What’s the point of a question if there is no answer? Why would we hope for things to make sense one day?
Our search for meaning is fueled by an unquenchable curiosity that is only limited by our ability to solve the problem. What purpose does this curiosity serve if not to enable us to reach an ultimate goal? Why go through it all to simply end up a pile of dust and fertilize the trees, or in Osama bin Laden’s case, feed the fishes?
Life must be more for the purpose of simply a journey. Why take a trip if you can’t remember it when it’s over? Why take a journey if you can’t experience the destination? Why struggle with equality, morality, the right to existence and the betterment of humanity if not for a greater purpose?
Beyond my personal faith, I have always believed that there has to be more. The prospect of one shot at this life and all the attachments that come with it, only to end abruptly and bitterly just seems utterly senseless to me. As a teenager I realized that a king and poor man share the same fate—so what’s the purpose of going through it all? So I hope, against reason, that there’s more.
Whatever the end may bring, if nothing more, I simply hope that when I reach my end that I am not disappointed. All that I ask for and hope for in life is that when I see the end of it I will not be dismayed. I hope that the escape of my last breath is as meaningful as the first breath I took in. I don’t know what this means right now, but it is what it is.
While I don’t know what will be revealed, I hope that all will be revealed, my friend.
I’ve said this before…… I’ll say it again. But it bears repeating:
Why is it written, “Let us make man in our image….” The great sages, especially Rambam I believe taught that this passage meant that man was imbued with the ability to make rational and moral decisions. Where as the rest of creation existed without these attributes. I only reference this in regards to your comments that there must be more to this life once we are dead than nothingness. I
f we are only here by some mere chance and not by design, than why do we as humans possess this ability to make moral decisions? Who’s to say that the rest of creation does not make moral decisions, but to me, it seems only humans do.