The Meaning of Life

What Is The Meaning Of Life?
This is a question that has been asked since humans first became  conscious intelligent beings. It is arguably the most powerful question  in philosophy, and the one that no agreed upon answer. Different philosophers, scientists and historians have all attempted to give their spin to answer the question “what is the meaning of life?”.  I am going to examine some of these ideas, break down  the question into smaller pieces, and articulate my own response which has formulated over the past 8 years of my existential dread to figure it out and live my life optimally.
  • *Before we begin this journey, we must first define two important and relevant terms; the concepts “life” and “meaning”.**
Let’s first look at three definitions for the word “life”:
1. The condition that distinguishes animals and plants  from inorganic matter, including the capacity for growth, reproduction,  functional activity, and continual change preceding death.
2. The existence of an individual human being or animal.
3. The period between the birth and death of a living thing, especially a human being.
Let’s now look at three definitions for the word “meaning”:
1. What is meant by a concept?
2. What is the significance of a concept?
3. What is the important or worthwhile quality of a concept?
  • *Now that we have defined both concepts, let’s break things down even further.**
When we are asking “what is the meaning of life?”, we are essentially asking the following 3 questions:
1. What is life?
2. What is life’s significance?
3. How does one live life in the best possible manner?
After having answered these questions, we will be able to synthesize  all of our ideas and create a response to the question that is the  subject of this article.
  • *What is life?**
As mentioned earlier, life is the condition that distinguishes  animals and plants from inorganic matter, including the capacity for  growth, reproduction, functional activity, and continual change  preceding death.
  • *How did it all get started?**
Many scientists believe that chemical reactions led to RNA, which was  the first molecule on Earth to self-replicate and begin the process of  evolution that led to more advanced forms of life, and over billions of years led to the human being (and you right now).
Humans (homo Sapiens) evolved from a species known as Homo erectus. Everything changed during the cognitive revolution that occurred between 30,000 to 70,000 years ago.
It is thanks to the cognitive revolution that we are the dominant, intelligent and conscious beings that we know ourselves to be today, and it is thanks to our consciousness that we are able to ask  questions such as “what is the meaning of life?”.
And that’s not the only deep question we came up with.
Are we special? Are we the only intelligent and conscious entities in  the universe or in the multiverse? Is anything “real”, or are we living in a simulation? Does God exist? Is there life after death? How do all  of the complexities of the Universe work? Is there a deeper purpose to life or are we merely just bodies of carbon living in a world that is random and does not care about us?
These questions are big and grand and scary because they have no direct way to answer them. Science can only answer so much.
We can only take what we understand about life, about existence and about the Universe and give it our best.
After all, the way your world is really created is truly a mystery.
So us being the smart ole homo sapien can come up with some clever tricks to make these big scary questions make sense. We can accept our “best answer so far” so we can move on and focus on what we CAN do, and what we CAN figure out. And we can take in every possible scenario of how reality works and come up with strong opinions that are loosely held.
Are we special?
If it makes you feel better to believe you are, believe it, if it makes you feel better to believe we arnt, believe that.
Are we the only intelligent and conscious entities in the universe or in the multiverse?
Believer whichever makes you more excited, but stay open to being wrong.
Is anything “real”, or are we living in a simulation?
Again, whatever makes you feel better, but come to terms with the possibility of the other choice being true.
Does God exist?
Is there life after death?
How do all  of the complexities of the Universe work?
Is there a deeper purpose to life or are we merely just bodies of carbon living in a world that is random and does not care about us?
The progress that we have made  in the last few hundred years has been remarkable. With every year that  passes, we understand a little bit more about the Universe and about  ourselves.
We are curious beings and we are wired to want to explore, to ask  questions, and to try to find answers to the mysteries of the world.
  • *What is life’s significance?**
We do not know whether we are merely just bodies of  carbon living in a vast apathetic and random Universe, or whether there  is a deeper purpose to our lives and to our existence. With that being  said, life is still meaningful and significant based on the fact that without it, no one would be able to experience or interpret the very existence of the universe itself.
Similar to how machines and robots are wired to think and behave in  certain ways, human beings are wired to want and desire certain things.  If there is one thing I want to emphasize, it’s that  while technology and culture have progressed drastically over the last  100 years, we still have the same desires that we had thousands of years  ago and we have not changed much biologically over that time span. The  difference between today and two thousand years ago is that we are  now satisfying our desires and needs in newer and more complex ways.
  • *Physical survival.**
Survival is the deepest and most important instinct that we have. As  mentioned earlier in this article, for most of our species history we  were somewhere in the middle of the animal food chain. Without good  health and a good environment, life is difficult and filled with  suffering. No baby is born ready to give up and commit suicide. It takes  a process full of corruption and suffering for a human being to get to  that point. Humans and animals are wired to want to live. As Abraham  Maslow points out in his hierarchy of needs, physiological and safety  needs are the foundation of his pyramid.
While physical survival used to be the act of running from a tiger or  getting shelter in a cave, physical survival today in the western world  is eating healthy, making money, investing, going to the gym, attaining  influence and power, sleeping well, etc.
  • *Reproduction.**
Reproduction is survival in a different form; survival of our genes  and of our specie. We are wired to want to procreate. Evolution made the  act of sex enjoyable. Our desire for reproduction has not changed.  What’s changed is that as a result of newer technologies, safety and  security, and world dominance, people realize that taking care of  children is a time-consuming lifestyle and choose to focus on their  other needs and goals first, keeping their desire for children as  something to explore later in their lives. Thanks to technological  advancements such as birth control and abortion, people have more  control over their lives and are able to enjoy the benefits of sex  without its consequences.
  • *Belongingness and Love.**
Humans beings are social animals. We are not meant to live in  isolation. In large part, the way we learn, understand ourselves and the  world, maintain our health and sanity, and think about and solve  problems is by communicating and cooperating with others. There is a  concept that is known as Dunbar’s number. It is essentially a claim that  humans can maintain no more than 150 friendships and connections at a  time. Yuval Noah Harari’s talks about this in detail in his book  “Sapiens”.
Yuval went on to explain that the reason we are able to cooperate in  large groups and dominate the world despite our cognitive limit to the  number of people with whom we can maintain stable social relationships,  is because of our ability to connect around shares beliefs, such as  stoicism, Christianity, capitalism, money, etc. This shows just how  important connecting with others is for us. In fact, our ability to  communicate and connect with others is one of the biggest reasons how we  went from being in the middle of the animal food chain to the civilized  and dominant people we are today.
In connection with this desire to connect with others, we are also  wired to want to love and to be loved. Love is crucial for a child’s development. Without adequate love at  an early age during sensitive and critical periods, children develop  attachment issues that can affect them for the rest of their lives. This  shows just how crucial love is for us. Even when we grow up and become  teenagers and adults, we are still yearning for belongingness and love.  It might be something as simple as having anxiety in school because  we don’t feel as though we have good friends. It might be the  experience of being depressed because a close family member passed away  and we regret not having told them how much we love them. It might be  throwing a fun surprise birthday party for a best friend or sibling  because of how much we cherish them.
Our desire and need to love and to be loved shows itself in numerous  ways throughout our lives. Christopher McCandless wrote this before his  death, “Happiness only real when shared”. This was coming from a man who  had escaped humanity his whole life and who lived his final days in  isolation in the wilderness. Despite pushing people away his entire  life, McCandless realized moments before his death that our lives are  meaningless if we are not surrounded by loved ones.
Another important form of love is self-love. At the end of day, the  only person that will be there with us at every moment of our lives is  ourselves. It is therefore crucial to have a good relationship with  ourselves. If we can’t love ourselves then how can we expect others to  love us? Ayn Rand put this idea beautifully with this quote, “To say ‘I  love you’ one must first know how to say the ‘I’.”
  • *Curiosity.**
On the evening of 3 August 1492, Columbus departed from Europe with  three ships. The explorer and navigator who completed four voyages  across the Atlantic Ocean is known today as one of the most important  figures in history, opening the way for widespread European exploration  and the colonization of the Americas. His expeditions were the first  European contact with the Caribbean, Central America, and South America.
Christopher Columbus, as well as the thousands of others throughout  history who put their lives at risk for the sake of curiosity and  exploration, did so because they did not want humanity to be forever  bounded by geography and ignorance. The Apollo Lunar Module Eagle  landing on the moon on July 20, 1969 is another example of humankind  attempting to expend its horizons. History is filled with pioneers and  giants from all fields; people like Socrates, Isaac Newton, Leonardo Da  Vinci, Martin Luther King Jr, Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk,  etc.
Going out of our comfort zones, taking risks, being creative,  expending our horizons, being curious, asking questions, trying new  things, and exploring the earth and space is something that is deeply  ingrained in us. Our desire to explore and to be curious is something  that sets us apart from all other living organisms; it’s what makes us  unique.
Curiosity doesn’t always have to lead to world-changing events like  stepping on the moon or discovering America. Sometimes, curiosity can be  something as simple as sitting down and writing a paper on a topic we  find interesting. Curiosity can be the experience of taking a vacation  and visiting countries and cultures we have never seen. Curiosity can be  the decision to indulge in good habits and to stick to them despite the  discomfort they may cause at first. Curiosity can be the process of  starting a business on an idea we are passionate about. Curiosity is all  around us, and it is one of the most primal instincts that we have.  Let’s embrace our curiosity and our desire for exploration, and let’s  create lives that we will be proud of.
  • *Legacy.**
As mentioned earlier, one of the instincts that motivates us the  instinct for survival. We have already talked about two forms of  survival in this article; physical survival and the survival of our  genes and of our specie. There is a third form of survival that controls  much of what we do in life; spiritual survival. Immortality is a desire  that is primal to us. We have the gift of consciousness, but also its  curse. We are the only living organism that is able to imagine and think  about its own death. We don’t want to die. It’s in our nature to desire  survival. For that reason, we try to stay healthy and to physically  survive for as long as can.
However, physical survival is often not enough. We understand  consciously that there will come a time when our bodies will no longer  be able to function. We understand that we will physically die one day.  For that reason, some people turn to religion and God and believe that  if they live a life following certain commandments and behaving in  certain ways, then they will go to heaven and live for eternity. Others  understand that the afterlife is something that we don’t fully  understand. Is there an afterlife? What happens after death? Despite  physical death, will our spirits and souls live on?
These are all pertinent questions. We can’t control what happens to  us after we die. We can control, however, what we do in this life. We  are not guaranteed the promise of heaven. For that reason, we must turn  our attention to extending our lives here and now.
  • *Well-being.**
If there is one thing that almost all religions, philosophies, and  schools of thought have in common, it’s that they aim to reduce suffering and increase well-being.
  • Well-being is the experience of health, happiness, and prosperity. It includes having good mental health, good life satisfaction, a sense of meaning or purpose, and ability to manage stress.
The desires to reduce stress, and to experience happiness and  prosperity are fundamental to who we are. Throughout much of our  species’ history, we experienced wars, diseases, natural catastrophes,  etc. Christopher Hedges, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author  wrote the following, “Of the past 3,400 years, humans have been entirely  at peace for 268 of them, or just 8 percent of recorded history”. This  is a fascinating statistic.
As mentioned earlier, our desires for competition and status, and our  instinct to separate into groups are all part of what makes us human.  Despite all the good that has come from those desires, there has also  been a lot of suffering that has resulted from them. The world can  sometimes be a cruel place filled with evil. It is for this reason that  so many religions and philosophies have attempting to figure out ways in  which we can reduce suffering.
A large part of well-being has to do with health. Gut health, for  example, is strongly correlated with mental health. It is for this  reason that people who have gut problems suffer in life satisfaction. To  be happy, healthy, and to prosper are goals that everyone has. A big  part of making progress towards those goals is combining a lot of the  things that have already talked about in prior sections of this article.  Are we living healthy lives? Are we constantly trying to learn more and  expend our horizons? Do we feel loved and are we surrounded by people  who cherish us? Are we working on our legacies and on projects that  excite us, or are we wasting our time and potential?
Happiness is not something that should be chased. The more we chase  happiness, the more miserable we will be. There is a great book about  this topic called “The Language of Emotions”. It’s important for us to  understand that all emotions are equally important, and that each  emotion serves its own unique purpose. Anger, for example, allows us to  create boundaries. Sadness allows us to release energy. Fear lets us  know when we are in danger. We need to allow happiness to come as a  by-product of a life well-lived, and when it does come, we need let it  be free like a bird; it will come and go when it pleases.
Contentment is a far better thing to aim for. When we are content, we  are grateful for everything that we have. With that being said, we  still try to get a little bit better every day. Mindfulness is also  important. In today’s world of over-stimulation, instant gratification,  and constant comparison, it is easy for us to spend much of our time  either stressing about the future or being depressed about the past.  It’s important to take a step back, to be grateful, and to ask ourselves  what we can do today to better our lives and to create good habits.
Finally, we need to understand that well-being is something that is  unique to each of us. What motivates me and makes me happy, might be  different than what motivates you and makes you happy. It is our  responsibility to have self-awareness, to understand ourselves, and to  understand what drives us.
  • *How does one live life in the best possible manner?**
Let’s look at what some famous thinkers, philosophies, religions, and schools of thought have said about this.
  • *Stoicism.**
  • Stoicism is a school of philosophy founded by Zeno of Citium in Athens in the early 3rd century BC. It is a philosophy of personal ethics informed by its system of logic and its views on the natural world. According to its teachings, as social beings, the path to meaning and happiness is found in accepting the moment as it presents itself, by not allowing oneself to be controlled by the desire for pleasure or by the fear of pain, by using one’s mind to understand the world and to do one’s part in nature’s plan, and by working together and treating others fairly and justly.
Stoicism was the primary philosophy during the time of the Roman  Empire. The beautiful thing about Stoicism is that arguably the two most  famous Stoics in history came from completely opposing situations and  classes; Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius and Epictetus, a man who was born  a slave. Despite their complete opposing life situations, both Marcus  Aurelius and Epictetus wrote and talked about all of the same Stoic  virtues. In recent years, Stoicism has had a resurgence. Marcus  Aurelius’ journal “Meditations” is now one of the most famous books in  the world. Furthermore, books from modern writers such as Ryan Holiday  have brought Stoicism into the mainstream.
  • *Existentialism.**
  • Existentialism is a form of philosophical inquiry that explores the problem of human existence and centers on the lived experience of the thinking, feeling, acting individual. In the view of the existentialist, the individual’s starting point has been called “the existential angst,” a sense of dread, disorientation, confusion, or anxiety in the face of an apparently meaningless or absurd world. Existentialist thinkers frequently explore issues related to the meaning, purpose, and value of human existence.
French philosophers Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus were some of the first and most important existentialists.
  • Sartre argued that a central proposition of existentialism is that existence precedes essence, which means that individuals shape themselves by existing and cannot be perceived through preconceived categories, an “essence”. The actual life of the individuals is what constitutes what could be called their “true essence” instead of an arbitrarily attributed essence others use to define them. Human beings, through their own consciousness, create their own values and determine a meaning to their life.
  • *Epicureanism.**
  • Epicureanism is a system of philosophy founded around 307 BC based upon the teachings of the ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus. Epicurus believed that the greatest good was to seek modest, sustainable pleasure in the form of tranquility and freedom from fear, and the absence of bodily pain through knowledge of the workings of the world and limiting desires.
  • Epicureanism argued that pleasure was the chief good in life. Hence, Epicurus advocated living in such a way as to derive the greatest amount of pleasure possible during one’s lifetime yet doing so moderately in order to avoid the suffering incurred by overindulgence in such pleasure. Emphasis was placed on pleasures of the mind rather than on physical pleasures. Unnecessary and, especially, artificially produced desires were to be suppressed.
  • *Objectivism.**
  • Objectivism is a philosophical system developed by Russian-American writer Ayn Rand. Rand first expressed Objectivism in her fiction, most notably The Fountainhead (1943) and Atlas Shrugged (1957), and later in non-fiction essays and books. Rand described Objectivism as “the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute”.
I read a large portion of the book “The Fountainhead” about a year  ago and I enjoyed it. This is one of the passages that has stuck with  me.
  • “It is not in the nature of man–nor of any living entity–to start out by giving up, by spitting in one’s own face and damning existence; that requires a process of corruption whose rapidity differs from man to man. Some give up at the first touch of pressure; some sell out; some run down by imperceptible degrees and lose their fire, never knowing when or how they lost it. Then all of these vanish in the vast swamp of their elders who tell them persistently that maturity consists of abandoning one’s mind; security, of abandoning one’s values; practicality, of losing self-esteem. Yet a few hold on and move on, knowing that that fire is not to be betrayed, learning how to give it shape, purpose and reality. But whatever their future, at the dawn of their lives, men seek a noble vision of man’s nature and of life’s potential.”
The reason I like this passage so much is because it communicates in  very clear and poetic terms the idea that a desire for meaning and that a  desire for improvement and greatness are core elements of who we are.
  • *Logotherapy.**
  • Logotherapy was developed by neurologist and psychiatrist Viktor Frankl. Rather than power or pleasure, logotherapy is founded upon the belief that striving to find meaning in life is the primary, most powerful motivating and driving force in humans. A short introduction to this system is given in Frankl’s most famous book, Man’s Search for Meaning, in which he outlines how his theories helped him to survive his Holocaust experience and how that experience further developed and reinforced his theories.
  • According to Frankl, “We can discover this meaning in life in three different ways: (1) by creating a work or doing a deed; (2) by experiencing something or encountering someone; and (3) by the attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering” and that “everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances”.
  • *My Thoughts.**
As can be seen, there exists many great schools of thoughts and  philosophies. What almost all of them have in common is the emphasis  they place on pursuing meaning. We live in a world filled with instant  gratification, overstimulation, misinformation, censorship, anxiety and  fearmongering. Furthermore, we live in a world and in an environment  that pedestalizes short-term harmful pleasure and makes it difficult to  delay gratification and pursue meaningful projects and activities. It is  our duty as individuals to take responsibility for our lives, to work  to better ourselves in incremental fashion, to work to better the world,  to try to enjoy the process of life, to love ourselves, and to pursue  meaning rather than short-term detrimental pleasure.
As mentioned earlier in his article, the are many existential and  philosophical questions that we are not able to answer. Perhaps with the  advancement of science we will one day be able to better comprehend the  complexities of the Universe. However, for the time being, we must  focus on what we can control as individuals and create frameworks for  thinking and living that are helpful for our development.
I believe that a large part of the meaning of life is to live  according to our instincts; maintaining good health, being surrounded by  people we love, working on our legacies, acquiring knowledge,  transferring our knowledge across generations, procreating, and placing  great importance on our well-being. However, it’s important to also  understand that we are not chained by our instincts. Each of us have  something special in us that gives us the ability to think and to be  creative. This ability to be flexible, to explore, to try new things, to  learn from great thinkers and philosophers, to go outside of our  comfort zones, to take risk, to go against the grain, to be contrarians,  to be creative, to think outside the box, and to constantly ask  questions and find solutions is what makes us special.
Going back to Viktor Frankl, one of my favorite quotes is the  following, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that  space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our  growth and our freedom.”
I want to emphasize once more that there is meaning in life and that  this meaning can be found all around us. We sometimes see people who  have fallen into nihilism. As someone who once fell into nihilism,  perhaps I can shed some light on my experience and on why nihilism can  be appealing.
  • Nihilism is the belief that all values are baseless and that nothing can be known or communicated. It is often associated with extreme pessimism and a radical skepticism that condemns existence.
The reason I fell into nihilism was because I was going through a  difficult time in my life. I had just moved cities and schools, and I  had left behind all of my childhood friends and almost everything that  was a constant in my life. This happened when I was a young teenager and  it was the worst experience of my life. At the time, I struggled  greatly with understanding my emotions and with social anxiety. It took  many months for me to finally come to terms with my situation and to get  out of denial. For a long time, I tried to convince myself that my  situation was okay and that everything would be alright. I struggled  with anxiety, with depression, and with many more problems.
With that being said, the story has a happy ending; I got closure and  I now live a life where I am generally happy and motivated. My point  with this entire story is that sometimes our life experiences lead us to  philosophies that serve as defence mechanisms. Nihilism, as well as the  belief that free will does not exist, allowed me to tell myself, “life  is meaningless, and I have no control over my situation”. Nihilism was  an escape. The rose-coloured glasses that I had been so accustomed to  wearing had turned into dark-coloured glasses. I was seeing the world  through a completely different lens. When we feel that there is no  meaning in life, it’s probably because something has gone terribly wrong  in our lives.
Of course, this is not always the case. There are plenty of nihilists  out there that believe in nihilism because they believe it to be the  most logical framework for understanding the world. However, as  mentioned earlier in this article, logic is not the only way to go about  looking for truth and examining topics such as the meaning of life;  emotions and instincts are sometimes just as important. An obsession  with logic leads to skepticism. David Hume demonstrated this with “the  problem of induction”. The problem of induction essentially explains  that nothing in the Universe can be proven for certainty. The problem of  induction, as mind-boggling as it is, demonstrates that the odds of the  sun rising tomorrow are equal to the odds of the sun not rising  tomorrow. That is the problem when we put logic on a pedestal and don’t  consider other important factors.
Nihilism is not natural because it looks at the world through a  pessimistic and defeatist lens, which is antithetical to how we are  wired and to who we are as human beings. No baby is born a nihilist.  Going back to Ayn Rand’s quote, “It is not in the nature of man–nor of  any living entity–to start out by giving up, by spitting in one’s own  face and damning existence; that requires a process of corruption whose  rapidity differs from man to man.”
With closure, with life experiences, with the process of slowly  improving, with information on how to deal with grief, and with  knowledge on life and existence, I went from being a nihilist to the  person I am today, the person I have always truly been; someone who  looks at the world with a glass half-full, someone who looks at the  world with curiosity, wonder and love, and someone who believes in  meaning, pursues meaning, and lives a life of meaning.
To further emphasize my point that life has meaning, and that  striving for meaning is natural and a core part of who we are, let’s  look at the science. Psychologist Jordan Peterson talks about the  orienting reflex in many of his lectures online. He explains that our  brain produces a very complex internal model of the world, and that our  senses produce a model of the external world. The hippocampus watches  those two models to see if they match, and if they don’t match, then a  mismatch signal is created; the orienting reflex.
  • The orienting reflex is an organism’s immediate response to a change in its environment, when that change is not sudden enough to elicit the startle reflex. The orienting reflex is a reaction to novel or significant stimuli.
The orienting reflex essentially serves as a compass of meaning for  us; it is an instrument that guides us through life. It is one of the  deepest instincts that we have. The best way to articulate this point is  by quoting one of my favorite authors and entrepreneurs, M. J. DeMarco:
  • “Your soul will resonate its desires or discontent when faced with quiet or minimal distraction; for example, sleeping, showering, or during a massage. How are you responding to your soul’s voice? Is it denied? Ignored? Muzzled with the intense demand of meaningless work? Distracted by a television? Honored?”
When we are wasting time and when we are indulging in behaviours and  activities that lack meaning, that are unnatural, and that are  antithetical to growth, our orienting reflex will let us know. It is our  responsibility to listen to our voice, to accept the mistakes that  we’ve made, and to take steps towards the right direction. Life is  filled with meaning. We must open our eyes and we must embrace this  meaning. Meaning is a core part of who we are, and we must live in  accordance to the instincts and purposes that have been explained and  analyzed in this article. Furthermore, we must also not follow  philosophies and ideas blindly and dogmatically, and we must understand  that the journey of life and the journey of meaning is unique to each of  us.
This article was a collection of thoughts from some of the greatest  thinkers of all time, as well as my own thoughts and my attempt to  synthesize all of this information. It is worth noting that someone  might read this article and not agree with everything. That is okay, and  it is completely normal. Each of us are at a different stage in our  process of life, and we come from different environments and have  different genetics. Despite the objective nature of some of these ideas,  the way I view life and the way you view life will not always be the  same. Two of the most important skills one can have are self-awareness  and critical thinking. If we are able to understand ourselves and our  thought process, and if we are able to question ourselves and to  question the world, then we have what it takes to grow as human beings  and to tackle difficult questions such as “what is the meaning of life?

The Goal is Resonance
The goal is resonance. Nothing is better than resonance. If you have a billion dollars, you are still seeking resonance. If you are well respected, you are still seeking resonance. If you are enlightened, you are still seeking resonance. Even Buddha was seeking resonance. Why else would he share his teachings with others? Resonance is the peak of the human experience.
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Artist: London Tsai
Resonance is feeling understood. It is improvization. Banter. A jamming session. You’re playing music with others and they are building on it.
But isn’t the goal enlightenment? Going to the hills and meditating? The point of meditating in the hills is to feel oneness with humanity; in fact, oneness with everything. You feel a similar oneness when you laugh at a friend’s joke or they laugh at yours.
When two people work on a shared project – a joke, gossip, a product, an essay – and are able to understand and build on each other, that’s the peak of the human condition.
Resonance is being in flow state but with another person.
To find resonance, you need to create. Any creation is an act of tapping a tuning fork and seeing who resonates. Creation is the risk. Resonance is the reward.
We are alone in our minds. At best, we can describe what we feel using symbols and objects. We feel resonance only when we somehow convert those symbols and objects into something authentic and understandable to another person. It’s magical when it works.
Some seek resonance with people after they die. Hilma af Klint was a Swedish artist who wanted her work to be released twenty years after her death. She sought resonance with people who weren’t born yet.
Creation helps you find friends, partners, and collaborators. Some people build rockets and attract people who resonate with a civilization on Mars. But all creation need not be intimidating. Sending your friend a funny meme counts.
There is at least one person out there who wants this specific version of you – your current state of mind, feelings, and interests. Creation helps you find that person.