The Meaning of Life


Penn Station. New York City. Photo Credit: Brent Allan Johnson.

Brent Allan Johnson, Editor-at-large

Are you familiar with the philosophy of Occam’s Razor? It states that the most simple solution is most often the correct solution. This philosophy is the basis of this article. This will basically be about boring philosophy, so if you don’t care for such discussion, go read something else.


By the way, I’m not allowed to talk about religion, so I’m not gonna touch on that.


Explanations for what we’re doing here are often too complicated. They start with simple statements like “to be good to each other.” But if we think about that more, it doesn’t make much sense. Sure, it’s a nice thought, but it’s not something naturally built into man at birth. If this were so, why do we feel the need to make children shows with the morals of “sharing is caring?” Children are mean little gremlins that do not deserve rights. Simply, if it’s not born into us, it’s not the meaning of life.


Then there’s love. Oh, to be in love! Love is born into most of us, I reckon, so it’s consistent with our logic. For those of us uninitiated, love makes life a whole lot sweeter, and when it’s absent, it leaves us with a strange, empty feeling. Almost like life itself has lost its color. It certainly feels like meaning. But, in the grand scheme of life, we are buried alone, and that’s morbidly true. When we’re dead, is love all we’ll have to say about life? No, I don’t think so. When we describe our lives, I don’t think love gets more than a paragraph.


Nihilism is one of the more simple answers. We exist for no reason, and when we die, that’s it. It’s hard to argue against that. It’s thorough, and despite being only one sentence long, it covers the basics of life. The thought, depending on the person, can be either relieving or depressing. If nothing matters, then whatever, right? There are no benchmarks to meet and life can be lived to its truest freedoms. Suddenly, life has no barriers–besides the ones set upon us by government, but that’s a necessary evil.


But if life has no meaning, why bother? Why do we wake up every day? Why do I go to school or work? Why do I do anything? These questions are all valid in face of meaninglessness. This answer is too confusing and poses far too many questions to be accurate, and there is room for disagreement.


Ignorance is the best answer that I can conceive. I know that sounds like I’m advocating for stupidity, and in a way I am, but ignorance isn’t just a synonym for stupidity. In the happiest moments of our lives, we are ignorant. For a few moments, we don’t think about the war in Ukraine or the heating atmosphere or the decisions of governments or nuclear warfare or work or grades or social standing or whatever ails us every day. That is ignorance, and as you know, it is bliss.


I went to New York last summer. In the lower level of Penn Station are food places for commuters to eat at before their next train arrives. I found a place called Joe’s Coffee, or something like that, and I bought an iced latte–it was painfully hot when I went. Next door was a bakery. I bought a bagel with some cream cheese on it. I ate at some place that sold crab legs. The food, I thought, was divine, and for a moment, as Kurt Vonnegut wrote, “Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt.” That may be the meaning of life: A good bagel and coffee.