The Purpose of It All
In the beginning, God created the earth, and he looked upon it in His cosmic loneliness.
And God said, “Let Us make living creatures out of mud, so the mud can see what We have done.” And God created every living creature that now moveth, and one was man. Mud as man alone could speak. God leaned close as mud as man sat up, looked around, and spoke. Man blinked. “What is the purpose of all this?” he asked politely.
“Everything must have a purpose?” asked God.
“Certainly,” said man.
“Then I leave it to you to think of one for all this,” said God. And He went away.
Kurt Vonnegut, Cat's Cradle
Finding purposes is tricky. It’s not hard, mind: You can come up with a purpose for anything and then defend it reasonably well. The tricky part is finding out if a purpose is true, or good, or useful, or meaningful, and which of these you want to use to select a purpose (because let’s not kid ourselves: we select purposes, they are not magically planted in the nature of everything).
I avoid thinking about purpose: Too abstract, too much like righteous intellectual masturbation when people start discussing it and defending their purposes against one another. The closest I come is “experience a full life” and “be more of a positive than a negative influence on the lives of others”. Very poetic, I know. Most of the time this works well – prosaic approaches suit me.
Sometimes I feel like joining all the fancy intellectual philosophical types in their deep considerations, and then I fee like I’m missing something. The feeling passes, but I might have to get back to this in the future.