Paul Cockayne – 07791 970406 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Welcome to my counselling blog. You can find more information about me by clicking one of the links at the top of this page
Often I don’t think of a title for my blogs until I’ve finished writing them. Today, I’ve started with the title. As titles go, it’s a bit on the daunting side, especially given that usually I write only about 500 words. How many thousands – millions? – have already been written on the subject? And is the answer really 42?
For many centuries, going back into pre-historic times, man has sought a meaning to life and for all that time religion has sought to provide some answers. There are many different religions, different gods, different ways of living, all seeking to provide mankind with an answer to that big question, about the meaning of life.
As individuals we are all exposed to religious ideas and may find a certain faith rings true for us : if a particular religion feels right, we are likely to adopt it and it can give us the answers we are looking for. But for many people, religion doesn’t really do it and the question “what is the meaning of life?” remains unanswered.
This leads us to an existentialist viewpoint, that there is no big answer (not even 42). But this does not mean that there is no purpose – rather, it means that we have to find our own purpose, to make our own lives meaningful. It’s a personal thing rather than a cosmic thing.
What matters? What’s important? It’s different for all of us : making the most of ourselves, helping others, creating something beautiful, doing something perfectly, being thoughtful, winning, experiencing intense emotions, fighting what we believe is right, being happy. This list can go on and on.
It’s about finding things that matter to us as individuals. Many different things will be important, in different proportions for each individual. We don’t ever necessarily write a list down and tick things off. It is a very instinctual process for most of us, I think. We find a way of life that works – practically, spiritually, emotionally, intellectually.
And I don’t think that this is really different for people who “have religion”. It’s just that those people are choosing a religion that matches their own personal list of meaningful things, again often instinctually. It’s like cooking from a recipe rather than just taking some raw ingredients and making something up. It’s still food.
If I were forced to live off a diet of beetroot and rice pudding I would not be happy (though others might be). I am fortunate to be able to choose the food I eat and so too I am able to choose what meaning I ascribe to life. It’s very much a matter a personal choice, life can mean whatever we want it to mean.
And in less than 500 words, too….