My first thought is… no. It has meaning in the feelings, emotions and connections we experience with other living things. I believe meaning is dependent on the perception of the other living things outside of ourselves. In other words, nothing exists without someone or something else to perceive it.
What are the things that happen if they are not perceived by a living thing? Like the old thought proverb:
“If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”
Part of me thinks existence alone justifies meaning. If something is perceived by something else at any given time, then it exists and it has meaning. So a tree that falls has meaning (or in this case, makes a sound) if someone or something else is there to hear it.
Let’s say a meteor hits Earth, wiping out all living creatures and all traces of life. Life and meaning do not hinge on continual perception. Even after they are gone, Earthly organisms existed with purpose. If a thing is perceived by one, at any time, that thing exists with purpose, in my opinion. This is a rosy view of meaning and life, but to me it beats the alternative: that we are random fluctuations in universal particles that accidentally achieved consciousness. I like the idea that even the mundane aspects of our world have meaning.
I try to remind myself to be happy there are other humans and animals around to see me and share this world. They give our lives meaning, if you believe so.
Edit – came across this quote from Albert Einstein after I wrote this, seemed relevant: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
A short story by Erick, inspired by true events 🙂
They didn’t tell her it would be like this. All the years of it took to get here. And now… there she sat, waiting.
It was as if every step of her life made sense right up until that point. But then, nothing happened. Boredom. Doubt. The moment she’d waited for all her life. Where did she go wrong? Maybe she should have stayed with her mother. But she didn’t really have a choice when the creatures removed her.
She just did the best she could. There were times where she thought her life was over. She somehow survived excruciatingly painful flames in that dark, dingy place. Then they kept her for weeks in a tight container with no light or fresh air. She somehow still kept it together when the blades ground her up into a million tiny pieces and even found some pleasure in it. It almost felt like she was becoming who she was supposed to be. And then when she thought it couldn’t get any worse, they forced her into a steaming hot water bath that scolded her inside and out.
After all these tests, she emerged, a beautiful cup of coffee, much in the sense that a precious jewel is forged from years of pressure between rough elements. She felt invincible. And then slowly she began to realize no one was coming. As she cooled off, questions began to enter her mind: “Why am I here? Is it just for the creatures? If so why, have they liquified me? What purpose does it serve if they’re just going to leave me here?” And there she sat, pondering what she had done wrong. No one came. She soon became cold and lonely. She lost track of time. How long had she been here?
She gave up hope. When all seemed lost, the creature picked her up. She had heard a myth that the creatures liked to torture and drink her kind. “Who are you?”, “Why are you doing this to me?!”, she shouted. But the creature couldn’t hear her. Soon she was heading down a small tube. Where she felt herself come into contact with something else. Another liquid substance. Slowly she felt herself drifting apart. She now knew what her purpose was. To do exactly what she had done. And follow the path right to this very moment, where she was no longer coffee, but disintegrating into part of a larger whole. Her molecules spread amongst the molecules of others and she ceased to exist at that moment, her last gasp filled with contentedness.