The Meaninglessness of Meaning


This started off as a comment to JT’s post, I Found Meaning in the Clouds, about how weird it is when people don’t see how meaning can exist outside their own religious framework.

So there I was the other day, paddling a kayak down the Grand Canal.. or was it the Royal Canal? I can never remember. Either way, I was paddling a kayak down one of the canals that run from Dublin to Shannon on a sunny spring day in the countryside. Every so often people would pass by walking their dogs. Once we passed a man fishing. We stopped for a picnic by a raised bog railway bridge, taking a walk through the cool grass and sun-warmed stones by the tracks. Paddling back to the cottage against the breeze, our arms were aching by the time we pulled the boats ashore and went inside to toast marshmallows over the peat fire.

There’s something, I think, churlish about asking for meaning in a day like that. It doesn’t need meaning. Hot sun and cool water, green grass and warm stones, happy soggy dogs, the sound of oars and birds singing, and bundling in to warm ourselves and cook a great big pot of everything over a fire at the end of it all. To ask for meaning on top of it all? Isn’t what we have enough?

Looking for meaning, it seems, is all about saying that life isn’t good enough as it is. That sunny days getting somewhat toasted (due to a bit of a remembering-sunscreen malfunction, I’m a bit more tomatoey than this time last week) in the countryside with good friends somehow need something else to make them worthwhile.

What do you think? Am I missing something?

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One thought on “The Meaninglessness of Meaning

  1. Isn’t the idea of meaning sort of linked to the idea of purpose? So within a framework where someone looks for meaning, your day would be a waste of time, unless your purpose was to hang out with peeps and stuff.

    Personally, I dunno – meaning/purpose is a very subjective concept and injecting meaning into everything can drive peeps up the wall (in my humble opinion).

    Also… sounds like a pretty awesome day! Good on ya! :))))))))

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