These days, I’m less convinced about the existence of an afterlife than I used to be. What I have come to understand, however, is that eventually––some five billion years from now––our sun will destroy Earth.
Cheery stuff, which has got me wondering… what’s the point, if there even is one at all?
If you don’t believe in eternal life, but do know that not just your current life, but some day all life as we know it, will end then I think you could be forgiven for concluding that––ultimately––so much just… doesn’t matter.
And in a similar vein, albeit on a more personal, and incredibly smaller and less important scale: if no one is really buying your life’s work now, and your words don’t stand much chance of continuing to reach people after you’re dead, is there really any point in wasting your time?
As I said, I’ve been thinking about this. And good news, I’m not just writing this post to depress you, because I actually have a conclusion. It’s perhaps not a conclusion that will suit everyone, but I personally find it comforting.
But let’s back up a second while I tell you about this show Angel––I promise it’s on topic, just bear with me here.
Almost twenty-five years ago, the best television show to ever have existed, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, got a spin-off. And at a key point in that spin-off, the main character Angel learns something, which he summarises like this:
“If nothing we do matters, then all that matters is what we do.”
Upon first hearing, my teenage self made a face and responded with, “What? That doesn’t even make sense!”
To me, it was one of those faux-deep sayings that sounded good on the surface but, when you dug into it, all you found was more surface.
However, a lot has happened in the two decades since. I left the church, for one, and I have come to discover who I am outside of religion. I’ve been wrong about a lot of things. Been too quick to judge about many others.
And now here I am, back where I started but facing the opposite way. Realising that something weird and unprecedented has happened, in that I actually agree with Angel.
(Background context for those who haven’t watched the show: Angel’s dull as a table lamp. His hair goes straight up, and he’s bloody stupid.*)
My philosophy on life as a whole genuinely is this: so much doesn’t matter. Like, at all. They say don’t sweat the small stuff, and that’s true, but the older I get, the more I see that almost everything is… tiny. On the flip side, though––if there is nothing more to this life than actually living it––then we can give those lives meaning. We, as the captains of our own ships, decide what is meaningful, and if we decide something has meaning then, by definition, it does.
Your life matters because it literally matters to people. People care, even if it doesn’t feel like it sometimes.
Yes, the universe may well one day end, or explode, or something. You’re never going to get out of this alive, and in the meantime there will be plenty of things to fight against, but we do not fight because we’re going to win.
We fight because it matters. Because that’s what life is.
It’s all there is. At least from where I’m standing now.
(*Team Spike forever and always.)