Searching for a Reason

I have found myself thinking about “the point of things” recently. I’m not sure what brought it on.

My father in law died a couple of years ago. Throughout his life he collected things – books, jazz and folk music, stamps, even silly things like scout memorabilia. When he died the family shared out some of the things he collected, but sold the majority of it. I get it – during his life he enjoyed the things he collected – he listened to each album that arrived through the post, and filed stamps from all over the world carefully away in orderly volumes. I can’t help feeling that it all came to nothing though.

I’m not sure, but I think the pattern of thought that questions the reason for collecting things – be that knowledge, or experiences, or material things – borders on nihilism. If life is meaningless, what is the point of trying? What is the point of carrying on?

A few days ago I made an offhand remark about blogging to a fellow blogger – that I sometimes wonder about the value of any of these words we publish. Who will really bother to look back over any of it and find any worth? Of course, this particular friend immediately rallied, and started re-building the wall around me that most of us have – the wall that allows us to just carry on without surrendering to futility.

It occurred to me today that the close friendships I have forged while sharing words with the internet have become my reason for continuing with this idiocy. They are the reason I keep landing each foot in front of the other, typing in the dead of night, and hitting the publish button. It sort of makes sense, looking around me. I’m not a material person – I never have been. I’m sitting in the junk room at home writing this, surrounded by detritus dumped by the rest of the household. I’m using an eight year old Windows PC, and have a middle-of-the-road Android phone in my pocket. I don’t drive a car – I cycle everywhere. The only jewellery I own are two rings – my wedding ring, and an engagement ring bought from a gift shop for a few pence.

While watching the latest episode of the rather wonderful “Halt and Catch Fire” late last night, one of the characters stopped another mid-conversation while they worried about the future, and explained that we are here – we are in the future right now. We should enjoy the now a little more, and question what might happen next a little less. I think he may have been on to something.

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