This is a republishing of The Steady Fella Newsletter. Once a month I share ideas from great thinkers so we can stand on the shoulders of giants, instead of figuring life out alone.
👨🏫 Topic: The meaning of life is simple
🔍 Quote: Oliver Wendell Holmes on expressing yourself
📸 Visuals: Virginia Mori’s introspective art of anxiety and fear
📜 Passage: Leila Chatti on living a life worth dying for
Life has no natural meaning.
Meaning is just a story we tell about our lives.
Like if I was a comedian, I’d say I find meaning by using laughter to bring joy to the world. But that story isn’t validated by anything more than my own belief in it.
There’s as much meaning to our lives as there is to leaves blowing in the wind.
Which is exactly why we need the stories—to fill the void we’re born into.
The problem is that we overthink creating a story strong enough to satisfy ourselves. Enter the mid-life crisis.
In reality, as Adam Phillips said, our lives are legitimized by nothing more than our desire to live them. So, life’s meaning comes down to one simple question: “Why don’t you want to die?”
Lucky for me I’ve got a bunch of reasons. I want to keep hanging out with the people I love. There are projects that I want to bring to life. There are experiences that I want to go on. There’s a dream life I’m having fun pursuing.
Put simply, I’m having a good time here.
Reinforcing that point, Viktor Frankl said “The existential vacuum manifests itself mainly in a state of boredom."
Translation: we start questioning our existence when we’re bored.
So we should do what excites us. When we’re having fun, there’s no concern about the meaning of life. We just want to be here to do it all.
We’re here to have a good time.
Many people die with all their music in them
—Oliver Wendell Holmes
The sound of quiet. The sky
deeper from the top, like tea.
In the absence
of anything else, my own
breathing became obscene.
I heard the beating
of bats’ wings before
the air troubled above
my head, turned to look
and saw them gone.
On the surface of the black
lake, a swan and the moon
still. I knew this was
a perfect moment.
Which would only hurt me
to remember and never
live again. My God. How lucky to have lived
a life I would die for.