“Existential Scabs”

A friend recently observed that I’m drawn to stories that seek answers; that posit about life’s purpose and meaning; that present some glimmer of light in the darkness.

“You think a lot about that stuff,” he argued.  “Way more than I do.  Talking to you, I’ve started to do it as well.”

And I was surprised.  For one thing, it hadn’t ever occurred to me that other people might not think about proverbial ‘meaning of life’ as much as I do, or even at all in some cases.  And for another, I’d never really considered myself all that…existential.  I remember reading a line by Jon Krakauer from Into the Wild.  He said something about “picking unhappily at my existential scabs,” and I thought, “Oh man, what a pretentious load of bullshit.”  I swore never to write a turn of phrase like that myself.

Yet here I am.  Picking at my own scabs and scars and boogers like a little kid on a playground.

And that’s probably why the swell of a good musical theater ballad makes my chest tighten with adrenaline, and why my chin crumbles in the falling action of a good book.  It’s why I desperately cling to connection, and why I relentlessly look inward for purpose.

And sure, that’s why I’m comfortable arguing, here, that for me THE MEANING OF LIFE is love.  Cliched and predictable though it is, that’s my truth.  And no, I don’t necessarily mean romantic love (although that too).  I mean self-acceptance; holding a teammate’s hand on a sideline; resting a tired head on the shoulder of your father; being kissed by your seventh grade boyfriend or your 72-year-old wife; walking your dog; planting a slowly-growing plant and observing it gently wind up and around your garden gate; watching your baby sleep.  I mean relationships and community.  A world constructed by little moments of shared experience, strung together like popcorn on a Christmas tree and illuminated by softly-glowing twinkly lights.

So yeah, I guess do look for an explanation and a reason for life, for humanity, for – hell – waking up in the morning.  Absofuckinglutely I do.

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