The Big One (ish)

On the radio today, there was a reference to a kindness test, that followed a programme on BBC Radio 4. It’s worth a listen if this link works. It made me think about that age old philosophical conundrum, asked of children and adults the world over. “Why are we here, mum?” Very existentialist, I know. .

For centuries, millennia probably, man/woman has asked him/herself that question and belief systems have been created to try and answer it. It haunts many people, this need to find a purpose to their existence that is embedded, innate. In some cases the lack can have appalling consequences for the individual who finds they don’t have a purpose or the purpose they identify is insufficiently compelling to justify to themselves their continued existence.

Sometimes, the passing of the years allows a certain comfort that each individual can find their own way, understand their own purpose, maybe in their family, in their work, in their beliefs. I suspect that finding empathy with oneself, having an internal compassion is crucial to finding that level of equanimity. However…

Why are we put here?

For me the answer to that age old question is not 42, or some derivative as Douglas Adams would have us believe but more a rather indifferent: ‘why not?’

Why does their have to be a pre-determined purpose at all? I realise I might be straying into the territory of religion and I’m not here to suggest anyone who finds their purpose through their beliefs is wrong.

But for me this question is misconceived. Irrelevant. I don’t believe anyone is here for a purpose ordained by someone/thing else.

No, for me the question is not ‘why am I here?’ but rather ‘what am I going to do now I am here and for however long I remain here?’ It isn’t about anyone else, anyone else’s ideas for me, but more about my own ideas for myself.

I don’t believe that, per Thomas Hobbes

the life of man [is] solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short

though there are times when he seemed nearer to the truth than Panglossian optimisim

all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds

Or some Micawberish hope

something will turn up

But it is undeniable that life is uncertain and transient.

So don’t go about wondering on the befores and the afters of your existence but concentrate on the now, on what you can do today. In the words of Tom Hanks – sorry Mr Rodgers: “Be kind.” That’s the way to ensure a measure of self compassion and inner quietude. After all a cleverer man than me said

“Kindness is the golden chain by which society is bound together.” —Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. 

Or, as I used to do as a kid when served my mum’s treacle sponge pudding, start on the inside and work out.

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published several books: a four book series following Harry Spittle as he grows from hapless student to hapless partner in a London law firm; four others in different genres; a book of poetry; four anthologies of short fiction; and a memoir of my mother. I have several more in the pipeline. I have been blogging regularly since 2014, on topic as diverse as: poetry based on famous poems; memories from my life; my garden; my dog; a whole variety of short fiction; my attempts at baking and food; travel and the consequent disasters; theatre, film and book reviews; and the occasional thought piece. Mostly it is whatever takes my fancy. I avoid politics, mostly, and religion, always. I don't mean to upset anyone but if I do, well, sorry and I suggest you go elsewhere. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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15 Responses to The Big One (ish)

  1. Indeed interested thoughts. Thank you for sharing, and have a nice day. xx Michael

    Liked by 1 person

  2. davidprosser says:

    I think Hobbes might have had it right in his time and I think some parts of the world are trying to go back there. I was out looking for Goethe’s golden chain and found that some people still wear it but these days it isn’t always connected to someone else. There are still some groups out in the wider world but they’re inclined to hold back when the noisy minority start. We can’t deny there are still individual kindnesses though as thankfully some people recognise this is the purpose they have chosen for themselves. I wish it was as catching as Covid19.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. petespringerauthor says:

    I’m with you, Geoff. Live for today—we can try to figure out the rest when we’re six feet under. And since we’re here anyway, why not be a decent person?

    Liked by 3 people

  4. trifflepudling says:

    Black, black, it’s all black 😱!!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Since you boiled the big question down to, “Why Not.” let me say that is a lovely photo of dog.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Widdershins says:

    It’s like trying to find the burned match that started the bushfire.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Rowena says:

    Geoff. this is something I’ve put a lot of thought into over the years, especially given my health problems and removal from the paid workforce. Why am I here? I do believe in the sense of a calling which is different to earning a crust, putting food on the table and even being filthy rich. I think some occupations inherently involve a sense of calling such as a minister of religion. People who are volunteers for a cause and put in tireless hours of unpaid work. Or, it can be something as simple as a sense to call someone, bake them a cake, take them a meal. Is that God prompting them? The universe? Different people have their own interpretations.Other people can take a relatively mundane job and make it their calling. Give it a grander purpose.. I heard the story of a former WWII polish pilot who owned a deli and other Polish pilot used to come into the shop to chat. They wanted to be with their own. Now, that I’ve rabitted on, I’ll check out the link.
    Best wishes,

    Liked by 2 people

    • TanGental says:

      I am not sure about people who have a clear sighted goal and that remains a constant. There’s too many variables to be constant, you have to be ready to accept the vagaries that come with living. So having an aspiration for the day is good but I don’t think we should look too far ahead. Deal with the now with some kindness. That’ll do me.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Rowena says:

        That sounds like a good philosophical outlook, Geoff, especially for the current times.
        It is easy to be kind to other when you’re locked down solo and can’t interact with humans. not my situation. Just saying…


  8. My experience of people is certainly different to yours, Geoff. Most people seem to be happy to drift through life aimlessly and with no purpose at all and only a limited few feel a need to have a purpose. The purpose seekers usually end up unhappy because they never live up to their own expectations.

    Liked by 2 people

    • TanGental says:

      Yes probably. I’m not sure I see it as a black and white purpose/aimless dichotomy, certainty not as a continuum. Sometimes people are driven, there’s a goal and sometimes it’s easier to drift. As that famous 20th century philosopher, Pooh Bear remarked, ‘sometimes I sit and think and sometimes I just sit.’

      Liked by 2 people

      • Yes, you are probably right, Geoff. Sometimes at work, I feel like I’m the only one who sits and thinks and everyone else sits and waits while I think. Haha, that why I’m feeling a bit peeved as you English say. PS Sally shared the funniest jokes about lawyers and I think you should go over and defend the species.

        Liked by 1 person

      • TanGental says:

        Oh dear… lawyer jokes… I fought a rearguard against them in the 80s… now I suspect they are entirely fair. Still I’ll go and find out why Sally is being lawist..


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