As people of religion encounter those of us that have no god, the inevitable question comes up, "What is the meaning of life?" The heated discussion recently here on TA and another question about Nihilism on another site made me think that I can only answer that question visually. I made a collage of some of the photos that make me happy that are from my life, mostly in the last five years. In it you'll find photos of me at work, play, travelling, with the two most important beings in my life, from Hawaii to Alaska, to Vegas, to Europe. There is a ton more travelling than that as I travel a fair amount for my job as well, I just didn't want five collages up. Having a European wife means that you know where the airport is.


If life has you deeply concerned about it's meaning, you are doing it wrong. Life is a joy to experience. If you are living life, you'll find joy all around you. For me even the hard stuff to prolong my life like running, is fulfilling. Seeing the smile on my dogs face as he gets to do what he was born to do, run! I hike so that I can live longer, but also to see the world that many modern people miss. It's often surreal when you are 8 miles off the trail head and haven't seen a living being for an hour. That's living. Taking down some drinks with some dinner with friends and sharing fun stories of your life, that's living. Spending your days worried about the death that we all know is coming and missing out on the life that is in front of you... that's a shame.

If you must have a reason for being, it's to better the lives of those you love and the human condition. To make the world a better place for your children. This alone is reason enough for me. Living a life in hopes of pleasing a being in order to be granted a future life that will also be ruled by their rules, is not a reason for living. Free will and self determination mean nothing when you can be punished for mere thoughts. What spirituality could you possibly find in 6 billion people all acting and thinking the same? The concept isn't even interesting. See my world view for it's diversity and the diversity of the individuals in it. Then there is always something new to experience. There is always something new to learn. It's a breaking of the shackles that would restrain you from the experience life can be.

Get out there. Live the life that you have. You know that you have this life. The afterlife that is described doesn't interest me because I'm too busy living this one. If a bear gets the jump on me on the next hike, so be it. My family always knows that I love them. My friends will remember my smile and my readiness for a smart ass remark. But I'm not going to be remembered as the guy who hoped for life. I'm gonna be known as the guy who lived it.

Views: 6

Tags: Atheism, Life, Meaning, non-belief, spirituality

Comment by Christopher McGuire on May 3, 2010 at 2:08pm
Wow, Gaytor, that was an impressive read, and even better collage! You made me realize I may be spending too much time online. There was a time in my life when I checked my e-mail once every couple of weeks, and that was only because I couldn't sleep that night, and I knew it would help. I was too busy with outdoor activities, and finding new things to try (seriously, who else can say they tried kite-boarding, skydiving, and free solo mountain climbing for the first time all in the same 3-day weekend?). I now look back on those days as some of the best in my life. Spending most of my days indoors and online has turned me into a shell of what I once was. I really need to get back to that old mindset.
Comment by Renshia on May 3, 2010 at 2:22pm
Gaytor, Well done,

I have been working on a post about the difference in the level of happiness in my life compared to my life as a christian. This seems to be a much better explanation than what I can put into words. damn. lol

I find it amazing how now my life has gained in meaning and purpose since I gave up all the extra baggage. Someday I hope to be able to convey it effectively too.
Comment by kris feenstra on May 3, 2010 at 2:32pm
Good call on the collage. I got your drift just from that and the title (though I still read what you wrote as well).

There are lots of philosophical questions that can be explored in seemingly infinite complexity, and volumes upon volumes can be written. This is one of those questions, however, when you stop trying to rationalize it so deeply and stop trying to pin it down in words, you often find you already have an answer.

A question on how I define myself came up awhile ago. I wasn't sure what to say. For the most part, I don't define myself unless there's a specific context with an objective answer (i.e. nationality). I answered that I don't always know exactly who I am, but I'm never confused about who I am. I can be me without effort. There is information coded in my body, in my subconscious brain, in my conscious brain that all defines who I am. Trying to fit all of that into prescribed categories just doesn't work.

And the meaning of life, my life, is much the same. I've been living with some sense of drive, purpose, direction for twenty-seven years. I don't need to think about it to do it; it's just natural. No matter what bullshit I come up with in my head, on some level I know exactly what the meaning of my life is. Without trying to lock it down in words, it seems pretty clear to me, but as soon as I try to describe something so intrinsic to my very being, it becomes amorphous and impossible to grasp. Putting the meaning of my life into words is like depicting Gustav Klimt's (or artist of your choice) work with stick figure drawings.

That said, I still spend inordinate amounts of time thinking about these things. Thinking, but never worrying.
Comment by Shine on May 3, 2010 at 2:49pm
If life has you deeply concerned about it's meaning, you are doing it wrong.

Love this! Fabulous post.
Comment by Mario Rodgers on May 3, 2010 at 4:27pm
I've been thinking about my father's demand for an "end game" of the atheist. It got me confused because all I could say was "What end game?"
Comment by Mario Rodgers on May 3, 2010 at 4:29pm
I love that castle! English castles are so dull in comparison!
Comment by QM on May 3, 2010 at 4:33pm
Amazing and very thought provoking post, Gaytor. And loved the collage!! I think I have been able to enjoy life more after I left religion. Life now is about trying to enjoy and live each moment rather than waiting for '72 virgins' in after life :-) (Seriously, I still dont get the fascination with the number 72!!).

Anyways, your post was motivating as well and I think I need to stop wasting time & life and living more :-)
Comment by Mario Rodgers on May 3, 2010 at 4:56pm
I've read on the internet that the whole "72 virgins" thing is a myth propagated to stir up hatred of Islam and found nowhere in the Koran, but I've found some informative sources that don't come with the emotional baggage that often arises when talking about Islam. These sources sometimes talk about the concept of "Houri". Apparently there are hadiths that describe women being one of the great rewards of divine pleasure waiting for the Muslim in paradise. They have this romanticized vision of perfection surrounding the female form, and this is probably why Islamic culture often stifles women and sex down here in the real world. It seems pleasure is even more important to Islam than to Christianity.
Comment by Aric on May 3, 2010 at 6:11pm
I think we should do something like this for the billboard. We should get members to send in a picture of them enjoying life and make a collage of all the pictures.
Comment by Gaytor on May 3, 2010 at 7:06pm
@ Mario, that is the Old Town Square Church in Prague. There is this one and the one at the Presidents palace that are very impressive. There castle just outside of town that we went to and really enjoyed. It's empty though. The Austrians stole everything except for a 800 lbs door!

@ Aric, I considered starting a group called the meaning of life, or whatever fits, rather than a blog. You could do that and we can and I'd certainly do up some pics for it.

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