I realized something a few months ago about youth and meaning.
I think the reason we feel more alive when we’re young, and the reason that everything feels more significant, is because we’re full of evolution’s pixie dust—hormones.
The movies we see as teenagers. Our first loves. The music we hear during that time. These are all made magical by the presence of hormones in our blood.
I believe this is true for a very specific reason: this meaning and significance magnifies our chances of having sex, thereby spreading our genes and propagating the species.
I find one particular aspect of this quite interesting.
It’s the relation between evolution and meaning. It could be argued that the most powerful type of meaning comes from survival. You’re about to die, you struggle, and you survive. That’s meaningful.
I think what hormones do is magnify the significance of things. They apply magic to the world, as perceived by those under the influence.
The music. The movies. Potential mates. Everything is sparkly glowy because evolution’s magic flows strong through our veins.
And when we’re older we have less of that. And we wonder why the same sorts of things have little impact on us.
I think it’s because meaning is given to us by evolution, and hormones (as well as our genetics) are one of its primary agents.
It’s epigenetics, perhaps. Our DNA is primed for activation, and the activator is the hormones. The enter the blood and our lives are injected with passion and meaning in all that we do.
I think music and stories act like a minor form of hormones. Or something similar.
I think narratives have patterns that match the narratives of life. When something has a pattern that we can predict. When they hit certain life notes, such as boy meets girl, man wins victory, combined with the predictable undulations of music, I think this activates our meaning reception.
I find it all very interesting.
What comes through quite clearly, however, is the fact that we get our meaning from what evolution wants us to do. And it has ways, as well as our culture, of stoking those fires within ourselves.
Patterns. Stories. Music. Narratives. And of course, hormones.
These make our purpose clear, and give us passion.