The Meaning of Life

Watching the children coming out of Wilby school tonight--remembering me running home from school in Little Harrowden 35 years ago--exhausted after spending the day working at a job that does nothing for me except pay my bills, I thought: What a shit stick we're handing the younger generation! What is there waiting for them except the ritual of wasting their best days going to and from meaningless jobs, enduring insufferable company, being put down by people who deserve to be hit with a shovel but you can't because in the absurdist hierarchy of the workplace they've somehow risen to the top? What is waiting for those delightful, free-living, tousle-headed kids except the gradual diminution of their will and their energy, their joy, in shops and warehouses and offices performing, ritualistically, over and over and over again, totally pointless tasks just so they can earn enough money to survive to continue performing the pointless tasks?
All of which is true. Capitalist society is degrading and anti-human, and the sooner somebody (I've always wondered if it wasn't my destiny) comes up with an alternative, the better we'll all be. But life does have something to offer those kids. The value of life lies in the experiences that the individual has which seem to have no value to the society as a whole. In who you love, particularly. In your relationships with your friends and family. In the values you discover in yourself--especially those, like loyalty, which society doesn't prize. And in the things you think to yourself in the privacy of your own mind. A day cannot be given meaning, or substance, by signing a lucrative contract or getting praised by your boss, unless you are a moral worm, but it can acquire those things instantly when you suddenly realise the beauty of a yellow moon hanging low over the town lights at the horizon.
Life gets its substance, in other words, from poetry.
It's rather funny that I, of all people, should have forgotten that.

Comments

Bobby said…
It'll spike high and it'll pitch low, but gradually it will get better.

I think.

I'm having trouble believing the right stuff lately myself.

I got keep doing that happy germ march
Ralph Murre said…
Find the poem in the work, and the workers, I think. I'm not saying it's a happy poem, but there is poetry. What is the moon but a lifeless reflector? yet we see its beauty plain - the flesh and blood around us hide theirs, but if we wish to be poets, shouldn't we keep looking? - R.
Bruce Hodder said…
You argue well, Ralph.
Many of the friends I prize are co-workers of course, so I do find poetry in them. But I have great ambivalence about the job I do and the role I play in the lives of the guys who live in the home where I work. Am I helper, or jailer? I honestly don't know.