My daughter gave me a weekly subscription for a year to write answers in the form of stories or relate feelings, memories, etc. based on a single question. We reached the end of the subscription with a final question “What do you think is the meaning of Life?” It’s a pretty broad question when you think about it and the older I get the more plain and simple it seems to get. So I responded…
Life is what it is. Life exists. Life evolves. Life’s purpose is to continue.
In the last several years it has become more resolved in my mind that we are here only by the happenstance of evolution. We are not special, at least in the biblical sense, that God has put us here as the center piece of everything. That’s just human ego. We want to think we are special. And, in many ways, we are, some good, some not. We are because we have advanced brains that have developed and evolved to the point of logic and problem solving, that over thousands of years have built and flourished in complex civilizations. The rapidity of our development as a species has given us dominion over the planet, which is contrary to nature and science. So now we are realizing the damage we are doing and some are sounding the alarms. But too many are beyond caring. Too much has been altered to return balance.
Nature exists in balance. When something in nature becomes out of balance, such as a species over population due to weather abnormalities, nature will increase the predators and find a way to control the over population. Nature may do the same with insects, fungi, bacteria and viruses, diseases, and evolutionary changes in genetics. Nature seeks balance, and in the same turn, provides all that is necessary to achieve it. Until human intervention. Humans are the main obstruction to natural balance.
There is much discussion about consciousness. Are we the dominant species because of consciousness? Is consciousness unique to humans. Some say, today, that perhaps everything has consciousness. Certainly we can see in mammals the similar behaviors that echo human feelings and family traits. In our communications with our own pets, do we not come to feel they understand, feel love and hurts and loneliness and joy, have memories, and dreams. They problem solve, they protect, they share affection. You see the same interactions and behaviors in other species, elephants, whales, birds, fish. So why not corals, or spiders, or plankton? Is consciousness what makes us human, or what connects us to the universe? Is consciousness a spiritual achievement, or the curse of the higher primate?
The reality is, there are countless trillions of stars, galaxies, planets, extending beyond our conception and understanding. Recent admissions by the government actually affirm the possibility that we are already being visited by someone far more advanced than we. The entire planet we are on was once ruled by giant reptiles. At some point in Earth’s evolution, it will likely rid itself of humans as the ruling species, as nature will always seek balance.
As the space-based telescopes have opened our eyes as to how small and insignificant we are in the total scheme of things, I cannot believe we are the center of it all, or the only life. I believe that if we could shrink ourselves to the smallest levels of atoms and molecules, we would find the only difference is time. Very small moves very fast. Very large, as in universe, moves very slow. But it is only a matter of perspective, where in the mix you are. And where ever you are, the speed seems normal. It’s like walking inside a rail car while hurtling down a track. I like to think of the earth as a molecule with an electron spinning around it. We are a simple, small element. And we are part of a fabric that stretches forever and is simply a part of another larger organism, or mineral, or gaseous cloud floating on a much grander stage. And that if we could shrink to the size of a nucleus in an atom, we might find growing on its surface, all manner of life, only sub-molecular life. With consciousness.
Is there really meaning? I believe the meaning lies in nature. The meaning is to survive, and spend the life span that is given to each of us doing what nature intended. That is growing, learning, reproducing, and dying. What we do as a species to enrich that time provides the pleasures and rewards that make the time enjoyable, and by way of consciousness, meaningful.