Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Meaning of Meaning

Why is there existence when it would make more sense for there to not be existence? Such a question might happen during a time of leisure. Walk into the cheapest cafe in the neighborhood, where people could hang out. A man at the next table slept, head slumped forward, the whole time I was there. He sat motionless, like a corpse. I looked closely to see if he was breathing.

Walk into the franchise, order a coffee. Sit in a hard plastic chair attached to a hard plastic table. Pull out a book, newspaper, crossword puzzle and mind your own business. Some people, after doing this for a while, reach an advanced level of cafe creativity. There's the man who brings a briefcase, containing a tool kit: screwdriver, plyers, scissors, glue, ruler, compass, pen, pencil, pieces of wire, string, elastics, a jar of keys and a scrap book. Everything one dollar.

I relaxed over a coffee and watched motor vehicles on the freeway and on the freeway service road. Vehicles move like fish in an aquarium. People in vehicles, bodily movement dictated by the machine; the actions of getting in and getting out of the car, truck, van or SUV, the seated position inside the vehicle, body rock, sway and bobbing as the vehicle rolls along. Inside the car, gaze at pedestrians, buildings, soothing motion, the world going by, each neighborhood a new scene in the movie; streets of desolation, streets extending to infinity, huge skies at the edge of the city, after you clear the skyscrapers, tall buildings and residential neighborhoods. Sit in the back seat, lulled, dazed, sound, motion, slight nausea, hypnotized, drowsy, in a dreamlike stupor. Gaze with detachment at people crossing the street as your car waits at a red light. Gaze from far away, as if the people were specimens, or alien creatures. Sit in the omnipotence of the back seat, in a cushy, expensive car and watch the strangers. You could be one of them. The only difference is your economic situation. Strip away a person's job and bank account and then see what's left. Then I become what I scorned and feared.

Ok, I start grumbling. My mind gets negative. I wonder about the meaning of life. Where did the concept of meaning come from? For this to happen, there has to be something else. Who is asking? The quest for meaning maybe started as a person experienced trauma, loss, disappointment, privation, abuse, frustration... If things went smooth, as in Fool's Paradise, maybe the question of meaning would never occur. Suffering, the first noble truth, caused me to stop and wonder why this unpleasant scenario is happening. I have no idea. I'll order another cup of coffee, relax and enjoy the flowers along the way.