I often challenge people to describe why their lives have meaning. In most cases, the answers are deeply unsatisfying, both to me and to the person answering.
Most people describe going to work at a job that could potentially suck more (an indication of victory), and ambling towards some sort of nebulous progression that is depressingly impossible to identify (see non-existent).
The people I’m asking being the smart individuals that they are, ultimately just shrug and say, “Yeah, it’s pretty sad actually…a meaningless job, some TV sitcoms, and then we die.”
But then their faces light up as if they’ve found the winning answer.
But, actually, I get meaning from my kids. Having kids just imbues you with a sense of purpose…you know…trying to make sure they have everything and do better than you do…
Bollocks. This is the one thing that you cannot say.
If you’re life is a soulless progression toward things that admittedly don’t matter, you are morally and intellectually forbidden from saying that you can escape this very thing by propagating it to your children.
There is an exception, but I’ve never seen anyone on this path. And that is to say to one’s children:
I made a mistake. I threw my life away. I’ll not have you make that same mistake. Pursue your dreams. Be a philosopher. Be a writer. Change the world. Yes, make sure you can support yourself, but don’t pursue money and prestige and corporate advancement. If you do these things you will have failed the way I have. This is the gift I give you–the gift of freedom.
If a parent does that, then boom–they win the debate. They just created true value in this world. Well, assuming that they take to it, and it works out and such.
But most parents don’t take this line. Instead they wallow in the stink of their own shallowness, and then claim it’s less shallow and less stinky because they’re training another human to stand in there with them.
Don’t. Do. That.
And if you are doing it, at least have the decency to acknowledge the issue with it and try to make adjustments.