Why are we alive?

Not alive, really, just on earth. Why are humans alive? I can think of several reasons, but each one seems to fail, at least in my opinion. So I guess that in a sense, I am searching for the meaning of life…only… My search isn't asking "what is life?" I am asking "Why? Why are we alive?"

Over the years, people have tried to find the meaning of life. Philosophers whose lifetimes have spanned millennia have tried to come up with a solid answer. They cannot seem to fully wrap their minds around it. And it is a hefty concept. Why you are alive… it is not as easy as many other questions that scientist have answered. Scientists are good at finding numeric and tangible things, like the atomic mass of a molecule of Boron. That is why I think that the job of philosopher is so much more difficult. To be able to conceptualize something that is so foreign is difficult.

I am aware of that. So I will not pretend to have all of the answers. I can only say that from my limited window on the world, this is what I see, (and don't see), to be the meaning of life.

It will probably be easier for me to start by describing the things that I don't think are the meanings of life. After all, these things are more tangible and believable.

I do not believe that we are put on earth to experience pain. While pain is a part of being alive, and I am resigned to the presence of pain, I hope that that is not the purpose. I would like to think that there is more to do than to fulfill a life of pain. I see too much of it. Everyday, just within my circle of friends, I see people in pain. Diseases, disorders, loss, pain. Too much, I say.

I take a step outside my circle, and see the Metro area. I see children living in motels, or boxes, or on the streets. Thank goodness it's getting warm again. I see the country. There are hundreds of people experiencing pain and loss from natural disasters, trying to put the pieces of their life back together. Another step, and I see people suffering, struggling to recover from years of oppression. And there is pain there. But among the pain, there is happiness. Not all of these people are dead. They have not yet given up hope. So, by default, pain cannot be the meaning of life.

The next thing that I think to look at is the foil of pain, and that is happiness. While thinking that this is the meaning of life, again, I am running a risk. But I do not think that happiness is a good enough meaning on its own. In H.G. Wells' The Time Machine, the humans in the future seem to be happy. They have all the food and clothes that they want. They have other humans to live with, and do not have to do any work. That seems to be a good enough life. Of course, it was not, but my point is still valid. People need to experience things to feel truly alive, so maybe that is the meaning of life. I fear that I must point back to suffering.

One obvious solution to the meaning of life is that we are put on earth to help each other. While this is an admirable view, I feel that I must play the role of cynic. I see too many helpless people, to much sadness to think that that is what life is about. Again, when I look at my friends, I see so much that others do not see, and know so much more than others know. If I can help people by helping to shoulder their burdens, then I am willing to help. But I will not carry on alone. I need to have the human connection, but let us have a connection, and help each other through the pain.

I certainly hope that we were not put on earth as an experiment or test. If it is a test, than I would like to know how we are doing. If the purpose is happiness, I'm a little worried. If it is helpfulness, I'm a little worried. If it is pain, then I am still worried, but it is a different worry than the other two. Again, I hope that it is not the point of life. But, humans seem to be good at causing pain. We seem to be good at creating and magnifying it. But we also seem to be able to cope with it, and humans have been doing so for thousands of years.

So maybe that is the meaning of life. To encounter pain and emerge from it as best as we can. There are some things that cannot be changed, that will not be changed. But since it is inevitable that pain will always be with us, maybe it is best that we accept it and then learn how to deal with the pain.