If you take it on ie if you stand in
"Life is empty and meaningless, and it's empty and meaningless that
it's empty and meaningless", what do you see? What do you get?
What's it like for you? What does life,
look like when you take on and look at them from its extraordinary
We could compile quite an extensive library of books, tapes, and
if we recorded even a small random group of people, sharing all the
ways "Life is empty and meaningless, and it's empty and meaningless
that it's empty and meaningless"
for them / occurs for them, and speaks to them, and what it means to
them (look: even though "... what it means to them" isn't
really useful in a conversation for transformation, in
this particular conversation it's
good enough for
And it would be a much, much larger collection if we
recorded even an average sized erudite, educated, intelligent group
found on any average sized college campus expressing their
debates, arguments, "Yeah but"s, "How 'bout"s, and "What if?"s in
assertion. They would just keep coming ... until we ran out of our
allotted time (and recording media).
usually have a lot to say about it. And so they should.
Intellectually (for starters) it's very provocative.
What exactly is it about the extraordinary qualification
"... and it's empty and meaningless that it's empty and meaningless"
suffixes onto existentialism's "Life is empty and meaningless" that
makes it so ground-breaking, so
so transformational? What is it exactly that makes it not just "a" but
arguably the go-to distinction in any
body of distinctions? Distinctions are
Which one is
Unscrutinized and misconstrued, "Life is empty and meaningless" bewails
that life has no meaning. By itself, it's a breeding ground rife for
ennui and purposelessness and other existential malaises. What's not
front and center
in this bewailment is that it's we who are meaning-making
And when a meaning-making
is unable to discern meaning, it first experiences the situation as
unbearably abhorrent, then it attempts to make more meaning to
remediate that there's no meaning.
Now suffix the qualification "It's empty and meaningless that it's
empty and meaningless" onto "Life is empty and meaningless.". You've
just done an end run around the
of there being no meaning when we crave meaning, by discovering that
having no meaning is, in and of itself, meaningless. The meaning-making
is confronted, its siege is blown, we're revealed to be both the source
of whatever meaning we assume to be out there, as well of the stunning
possibility of it having no meaning that there's no meaning.
Life just is this way. There's no meaning. Any meaning
there is, is just meaning we added to life. It didn't come
is not in there's no meaning.
is in insisting there's gotta be meaning in
of there's really none. But it's empty and meaningless that it's empty
and meaningless. So you can let it go. A new space in which who we're
being as meaning-making
becomes enlivened. When you catch yourself being a meaning-making
you can (maybe for the first time) truly create. Meaning isn't inherent
in life. It's we, at our own peril, who overlook that it's man-made.
A friend of mine is a counselor whose offering is "to help people find
meaning in their lives, when they can't find it for themselves". I jest
with him, asking "Why
with them when they got it right the first time?". It's a tricky
to master. Misdelivered, it only adds more meaning and significance
rather than reveal there's none.