I love the idea that life is meaningless.
It fills me with joy to think that the cosmos doesn't give a crap about me, nor does the God who doesn't exist, nor the oft-mentioned "universe" -- in the sense of the universe is trying to teach me a lesson.
No it isn't. Whatever lesson you or I are going to learn from an experience will come from us. Ditto for meaning.
I used to believe there was an objectively real Meaning of Life. The main goal of life was to figure out what that truth was.
But meaning isn't a fact like "the world is round (or nearly round)." Sure, many people consider there's a single fact which, when accepted, gives the most meaning to life. Such as, "Jesus died for our sins."
This is absurd. Just look around.
You'll find all kinds of people leading all kinds of meaningful lives who believe in all varieties of religions/ philosophies/ spiritual paths, or who embrace the lack thereof. It's crazy to consider that only some people who believe in certain things are able to lead meaningful lives.
Yet the habit dies hard of assuming that meaning is out there in a realm of objective reality, rather than in here inside our subjective consciousness.
More precisely: we lack confidence in our personal Meaning of Life, with those capital letters to show the importance of this notion; but we are fine with accepting mini-meanings in our daily lives. Most of us want validation for our big major overarching Meaning of Life, while standing proud, strong, and alone when it comes to those mini-meanings.
Question is, where's the dividing line between the two? In fact, is there one?
Each of us likes certain music. We like certain books. We like certain television shows. We like certain types of other people for love, sex, companionship, whatever. We like certain breeds of dogs, or mutts. We like certain parts of the world. We like certain phones, computers, cars, clothes, jewelry. We like certain sports, physical activities, artistic pursuits.
These "likes" are meaningful for us. When they are absent from our lives, we aren't as happy. Life doesn't seem as appealing. So obviously they are important.
However, usually we don't obsess with finding validation for what we like, what attracts us, what turns us on. We don't read books or go to meetings where the question "Is Chinese food better than Italian food?" is discussed in depth.
We just know what we like. We trust that knowing. Going to a movie with a group of friends, it doesn't bother us when everyone else says afterward, "That movie was terrible." We just say, "Hey, I liked it."
So at what point do our likes become valid only if someone else affirms or shares them? At what point do we lose confidence in what we find meaningful in life, and worry about whether other people would agree with our meaning choices?
I can't tell how many books I've bought because I wanted to learn that someone else looked upon life in the same way that I do. Not knowing what number it is, I can at least say... lots.
I'm not seeking facts about the universe, about reality. No, I'm hoping that my subjective feeling of what makes life meaningful will get a validation stamp from another person. There isn't any good reason why I want this to happen; as noted above, I don't do this for my mini-likes, like strawberries.
I have spent exactly zero minutes in my 64 years of living worrying about whether I should like the taste of strawberries as much as I do. I simply enjoy eating strawberries.
But when it comes to whether I should like my philosophy of life, my overarching attitude toward existence, my feelings about The Meaning of It All -- for some reason I want outside validation for what, in essence, are simply other forms of "likes."
I like strawberries. I like my weird unique way that I meditate in the morning. I like my cobbled-together mish-mash of a philosophy that combines Taoism, Buddhism, neuroscience, martial arts, progressive politics, and a whole bunch of other stuff.
Really, I shouldn't need anyone else to give me a thumbs-up (or thumbs-down) on any of these likes. If someone told me, "You shouldn't like strawberries," I wouldn't take them at all seriously. I'd just smile and say, "Thanks for your opinion. Your useless opinion."
Again, I know what I like when it comes to food. Just as I do when it comes to what makes life meaningful for me in other ways. Yet I'm much more inclined to get defensive and argumentative when someone challenges my big Meaning of Life "like," than my mini-fruit on my cereal "like."
Both are subjective. Both are purely dependent on me. Both are incapable of being proven demonstrably true by anyone else. But for most of my life I've wanted to look upon my Philosophy of Life as something objectively real, rather than a personal preference.
Those days, thankfully, seem to be coming to an end. I'm much more comfortable now with accepting that whatever I find to be meaningful doesn't need validation. It is what it is. What I like.