It all started with Pandora radio; that’s where a decent amount of my epiphanies began. I was getting ready to go out on a Friday night and had the 1975 station on (highly suggested) when their most popular song you’ve probably heard of, “GIRLS”, started playing. I was curling my lashes when the lyric, “I know you’re looking for salvation in the secular age, but girl I’m not your savior” came on, and for some reason it just clicked with me. No, not due to the fact that Matt Healy denied being my savior, but rather because the phrase “looking for salvation in a secular age” caught my attention. For a mainstream band in the United States, I must say that it was definitely a profound statement.
I couldn’t get the song out of my head for at least three days. It drove me crazy. I thought about it on my walk to class, in my computer science lectures, and while I was in the shower. I wasn’t even completely sure of what secular meant, so why was I dwelling on this? I came to the conclusion that for whatever reason I was holding onto this lyric that I needed to actually think. I decided that I would sit myself down and think about it. After a long journaling session, I realized that I had no idea what my meaning was in the slightest. Who am I, why am I here, and what am I doing? These were the questions I was left with. I wasn’t entirely curious about salvation in the sense that Matt Healy had interpreted it, but in my case I was more interested in meaning. Basically I was asking myself the usually cliché, but in my case very serious age-old question: “What is the meaning of life?” Like so many others who had philosophized before me, I started my journey to enlightenment with no answers and no direction.
My search for meaning began with thinking about our society. I decided to look at my surroundings in order to better understand our society, as it directly affects me in my daily life. I decided to turn on the TV in my apartment, and Keeping Up with the Kardashians flashed onto the screen. Like a lot of people, I decided that changing the channel wasn’t worth the extra effort of pressing a few more buttons (after all it was the episode when Kanye surprises Kim on her birthday, plus the Kardashian sisters do have a knack for dressing well). I started comparing myself to Kim and her sisters, but I decided that there was no comparison, and that it was crazy for me to try. I realized that Kim is the only Kim in this world, and I am the only me. She and I are completely different people, and therefore her meaning and my meaning are completely different from one another.
Then I started to get deeper, wondering, ‘What makes meaning… meaningful?’ I was now walking to a lecture on film late in the afternoon. UMass is a huge school, and I always find myself thinking how I rarely see the same people twice on my walks to class. This made me think about the people that I pass every day; would they find meaning in what I find meaningful or vice versa? The people that I make eye contact with for merely two seconds have just as much thoughts, ideas, and experiences with these questions as I do. I decided that like each individual’s meaning on this earth, finding meaning in certain quotes, actions, or ‘things’ is also incredibly individualized.
Here is when I came to my conclusion: after this half-week long battle with myself to find my ‘meaning’, still not entirely sure of what it is I am attempting to define, I give up. You have now wasted five minutes of your life reading this, expecting me to divulge the meaning of life to you at the end of this article. You’ve read my thoughts and my over analyzing of what ‘meaning’ is, and my only advice is that you need to stop over thinking things. Picture one of those gigantic 1,500-piece puzzles. When you dump out all 1,500 pieces into a scrambled, messy pile on the floor with no correlation between them, this is where you start. Over time you piece together those puzzle pieces, each representing a moment lived or a special time in life and then the puzzle starts to take shape. This is how life is to be lived. Right now we are supposed to be living, and when we can no longer live purposefully, then it is time to rethink and piece all of the pieces together to form our meaning of life. Over thinking leads to losing precious time that could be spent living. Our little bits of meaning in life will come together one day, but we can’t focus on what the big picture will be if we’re standing in the present.
Photo 3 is the author’s.