tick, tock, tick, tock

tick, tock, tick, tock
image by dall.e 2

If you believe in God, then you believe in purposes and callings… in destinies and races set before every human gracing the face of this earth. Even if you don’t believe that there is a God (and I invite you to), you certainly know, even if you are not admitting it, that we exist for a reason. Now, the question of what that reason is… is an old old query, one with endless possibilities at the end of its question mark, yet one without clear answers. By “clear”, I don’t mean answers that can be understood, but rather those that can satisfy. There is no one definite response to the questions, “What is the purpose of life?” or “What is the meaning of life?”, even though most scholars agree that as French Philosopher Albert Camus once said, “Man cannot live without meaning”. Other academics have echoed this sentiment. For instance, Canadian Clinical Psychologist Jordan Peterson says that meaning is what makes the suffering of life bearable. African American writer Chester Himes put it this way:

“Man cannot live without some knowledge of the purpose of life. If he can find no purpose in life he creates one in the inevitability of death”.

Of course, the purpose behind our lives has something to do with the fact that we die.

Our reason for being must be understood with an appreciation of our fleetingness; with mindfulness that there was a time when all eight billion of us were not in existence, and that there will come a point in the future when we will all be replaced by newer humans. And yes, before our current world, the earth still rotated on its axis and revolved around the sun in its orbit, and will continue to do so even after we are gone. Yet we won’t leave it the way we found it because as most people (at least those who enjoy critical thinking) know, we never truly leave anything the way we found it. Our being has a force greater than gravity, a light brighter than the sun, a voice louder than the mightiest of thunders, and a reason hidden deep within the soul of the universe we inhabit. And no one dares to tread that far lest they end up like the preacher of Ecclesiastes who said, “I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind” (Ecclesiastes 1:14).

The preacher has a point. Nonetheless, as I briefly implied above, “meaninglessness” is no satisfactory explanation for the question at hand. Neither is it a helpful solution to the hopelessness that most of us feel when we come to terms with the fact that perhaps the world would be essentially the same in our absence. That is a dangerous train of thought to board because the destination is obviously a bloodbath of souls ridden with feelings of inadequacy. In most cases though, these feelings appear so valid that one ruminates over how he/she has not made large enough contributions to allow him/her to suppose that he/she has earned his/her place on earth. What do I mean by “earn”, you may ask? Well, it turns out that existence is a gift. Some scientists calculated the probability of one human being born… the chance of, say, one of your father’s billions of sperms colliding with one of your mother’s hundreds of thousands of eggs. They found it to be 1 in 400,000,000,000,000,000. When previous generations are considered, from Adam and Eve or from whatever dinosaur (clearly I don’t understand the evolutionary theory), an article by ScienceDirect writes,

“The probability of that happening comes out at about 1 in 102,685,000, or 10 followed by 2,685,000 zeros. For comparison, the Universe only has 1080 atoms.”

Just how precious must life be? Just how valuable is this gift that the creator has bestowed upon you?

image by pixabay

Like most gifts though, this one is also not quite “free”. Yes, I am saying, there is a price to pay for existence. I am also saying that that price is the answer to the question we’ve been attempting to unravel in this essay. I think this is a good spot to mention that I will not even try to answer that question because first of all, how dare I? Second of all, that is not the purpose of this essay. My aim in writing this text is to simply share that I too, feel quite useless sometimes and my sense of that only intensifies as I meditate on the future and what it is I want to do with the handful of years[?] left before I rest peacefully (hopefully) in my grave. I too, lie in bed sometimes and wonder what the creator had in his eternal mind when he moulded my body and activated the beats of my little heart. I imagine that he set a timer on it, so it will pump and pump and pump until the clock strikes 00:00:00:00:00:00, and I shall be no more. In His wisdom, he decided to keep the details of that little clock hidden from me, not so that I can “live as if there is no tomorrow” or “love as if living is forever”, but perhaps so that I may not be selfish with the time in my hands. And so that you too, having been given your own clock, may be wise in the use of your time, that is, to whom you give it and on what you spend it. That per second of your day, in every breath you take, each spit you swallow, and every blink of your eyes, you may know that the meaning of your life is not handed over to you by some cosmic power but rather created by the thoughts in your mind, the meditations in your heart, the words of your mouth, and the actions of your body.

Now, this is only an assumption, of course. There is no way my mortal mind and fragile heart could possibly comprehend the creator’s eternal plans. Yet what harm is there in taking ownership of the story of your life? One might say, “Oh, lest I am too prideful to ignore the forces of nature and chance?”. To that, I say, lest you look back at your life and see endless reminders of what a blank life you have led. Lest you are not aware that you only have ten or so summers, kisses, dinners, flights, hugs, TikTok videos, trips to the mall, naps, and sneezes left in you. Lest you fail to see how terrible of a job you have done so far at making something worthwhile out of your life by misusing your time on people and things that don’t truly matter.

The Red Poster by The Learning Network

!*! This article was inspired by a picture prompt from November 1 in the New York Times as seen in the image attached above!*!