Here it is... the capstone of 65 years of living, my grand theory of meaningfulness, the key to a satisfying life, all of philosophy and science encapsulated in a few pithy sentences.
(Plus, I readily admit, convincing proof of my delusional grandiosity.)
This is where everything goes wrong, and where everything goes right: keeping our personal subjective interior in relationship with the world's objective exterior.
The key is figuring out that relationship. I assume that such exists. There are indeed two aspects to our living. Subjective and objective.
I realize many would disagree.
Those strongly inclined toward idealism see everything as residing within each human consciousness. Those strongly inclined toward materialism see everything as residing within constructs of physical matter/energy.
I've leaned in both of those directions myself at different times of my life. I understand their appeal. But my Meaning of It All, v. Nov. 2013, is based on a blend of subjective and objective, personal and universal, consciousness and matter.
The most private place in existence is the inside of my own head. No one but me has access to it. I am the only one who knows what it is like to be me. It is impossible to give anyone else even the most minute glimpse of my inner world.
Yet we all try. In various ways.
Words, gestures, art, music, dance, the whole gamut of human expression. Which, in the end, fails to bridge the gap between our subjective experience of reality and the reality that exists outside experience.
For there is indeed an objective side to life. Does the moon exist when no one is looking at it? Oh, yes, it does, notwithstanding some quantum theorists who hold that the world is brought into being by observation.
I take a common sense approach here.
The world preceded me; the world will continue when I am gone. Ditto for humanity as a whole. Ditto for life as a whole. I accept that 14 billion years ago the universe big-banged into being, and existed without living entities for a very long time.
So this strikes me as obvious: there is our subjective experience, and there is objective existence. Never the twain shall meet -- though the twain always relate. Each of us is engaged in a never-ending dance with the world.
We embrace it; it embraces us. We and it always remain separate, yet are unfailingly connected.
A meaningful life is founded on this: realizing how subjective me and objective world relate. When I confuse inner and outer, personal and universal, subjective and objective... confusion, disappointment, conflict.
Often, if not usually, we screw things up. We get reality completely backward. We look upon our subjective consciousness, our personal experience of the world, as being the Way Things Really Are.
This is just the way things are for us. How it is inside the utterly private realm of our own minds. When I feel anger at the driver who almost hit me on the freeway, that emotion exists nowhere outside my own psyche.
Ditto for everything else that I experience within my consciousness. Seeing, hearing, tasting, feeling, smelling, thinking, intuiting, marveling, questioning, realizing, understanding: each and every "...ing" is purely mine, no one else's.
Not so for the world. This belongs to all.
Our dogs inhabit the same house my wife and I do. They walk on the same rugs, pass through the same doors, and eat food in the same kitchen as we do. Naturally our dogs subjectively experience these things differently, but there is no difference in the objective world being experienced.
Unfortunately, people often fail to realize this. Which includes me, though not to the same extent as religious crazies and science deniers.
Who flip around the proper relation of subjective and objective.
They take their subjective beliefs as being objectively true, while looking upon objective truths as being subjective beliefs. Thus evolution, global warming, and other verified knowledge about the outside world is denigrated, while personal interior views of reality are exalted as universal verities.
Again, backwards. Horribly backwards.
It is dangerous, both for the individual and for society, to screw up the proper relationship between subjective and objective reality. That this happens so often is a warning sign: Homo sapiens may be a species which has attained a state of consciousness that threatens the ability of humanity to thrive, if not survive.
Other animals realize that they are not the world.
When they fail to respect objective reality, they suffer the consequences. Death, injury, distress. Bad things happen when a living being doesn't know that the world outside of its consciousness possesses a reality unto itself.
Thinking doesn't make it so. Believing doesn't make it so. Faith doesn't make it so.
A coyote or rabbit is much more wise in this regard than humans. "Dumb" animals are smarter than a person who imagines they can create their own reality.
Or be saved by a God that only exists within their own minds.
I am. But only to myself. The world also is. For everybody and everything. Simple truths. Yet not easy to genuinely comprehend.