Imagine you went to sleep one night and awoke to find yourself sitting at a table, on an alien space ship, with a view of space streaking by. And imagine that a friendly looking alien was sitting on the other side of the table.
After all the WTFs and pleasantries, the alien explains that they are doing a 400,000 year study about meaning. He then asks you a simple question:
What do you do with your life, and why?
I think most smart people would find their own answers, if sitting on an alien space ship looking down at Earth, or at the Milky Way, to be grossly inadequate. So much so as to be embarrassing.
Luckily for you, I am saving you that feeling by asking you the question now, here, without the scrutiny of an entire alien civilization. This way, you have the opportunity to be embarrassed by yourself and you can make changes accordingly without anyone knowing.
I’m a service provider.
What Do You Do?
Let’s take me for example. I work for a multi-billion-dollar corporation that sells things. It sells things so that the people who sell them can get rich. That is the goal.
I’m asked by the alien how long I must hibernate each cycle. “Eight out of twenty-four.”, I answer.
He gasps visibly. “Wow, that’s worse than most we see.” He does some mental arithmetic and seems a bit confused. “So you sleep for 8 hours of your 24-based cycle, and then for another 9-10 of that you are given some measure of compensation to help others become wealthy?”
Unhappy with the way he phrased the question, I think about how I would say it in a better way. Meaning, a way that doesn’t make me look so stupid. Nope…there isn’t really one. It’s just stupid.
Basically, if you spend your entire life either doing something like this (or preparing to do it)–I’d argue you’re leading an empty existence. Some may argue that it’s all worth it because it’s being done so that you can raise successful children.
Sadly, for most of these people what they really mean by “successful” is doing the same thing as them in WidgetLand, i.e.:
Normally I’d hate what I do, but since I’m doing it so that my kids can grow up and do the same thing…I feel better about it…
No. Fail. Reconsider. I beg you.
Live your life so that if you end up on an alien ship that’s studying meaning, you’ll have a better answer to give them about your life than, “I help BazillionCorp make widgets.” And whatever you do, no matter what, don’t answer, “I hate making widgets for BazillionCorp, but I get meaning out of it because I’m helping my kids become widget-makers for BazillionCorp.”
There’s no other word for this than “disgusting”. ::