From as early as I can remember I have been a creative person. This I consider a blessing, a true benediction. To be constantly bursting and overflowing with ideas across different formats and genres, adrift and absent in the moment where time is of no consequence with thoughts parading in the background unattended is a state one could only wish to attain constantly. It’s a freedom, a release, a spiritual connection unblemished or untarnished and untangled from emotional thought and subjectivity.
As I ground a canvas coupled with music or the natural soundscape, as the brush is dipped into the paint and the mind/arm/hand move swiftly and symbiotically in tune leaving indelible strokes and marks, as my fingers dance across the keyboard so freely married with the mechanisms of my mind using the alphabet to digitally scribe and bring my thoughts to life, as I strum, bend and hammer the strings of my guitar to interpret my emotion, as the minds meet when I perform in front an audience… I am truly free.
And then, fuck, suddenly one morning I awake, and I’m struck by a thought that leaves me somewhat bewildered and disrupted.
“What is the point?”
And I don’t mean in just what I do. But what is the point in anything? We are on a rock spinning through space and what we do is really quite insignificant in this grand experiment. Let’s be honest about it.
Oh, leave me alone brain!
This question has hit me from as early as I can remember. For days I would be in that heavenly place, unaware of the outside world, freely creating and then smack out of nowhere the resounding question would hit me:
What is the point?
And as I get older, the question, it seems, gets more frequent, emphatic and louder.
I guess the best place to start, to enquire, to philosophise would be to ask:
Why should there even be a point?
We as humans appear to be so desperate to give our lives value, reason or definition, but maybe, it could be conceivable, that there is simply no point. It’s a scary thought, but perhaps, we may just be pointless. Of course, we as ‘individuals’ all give a sense of meaning to our family and friends, work colleagues and people we daily interact with and the same no doubt happens inversely, but in the grand scheme of things we are quite possibly pointless. If we take this to be true, then this changes how we perceive ourselves, suddenly the ego is rendered defunct, for we have become nothing. Pointless. As Rene Descartes would claim ‘I think, therefore, I am… pointless’.
It’s very human to think that we are ‘someone’. That the sum of our endeavours, our achievements, the years we spend on this planet amount to something, otherwise, and here it comes: What’s the point? The ego is so strong and will fight to remain important, to be relevant, to have weight. It will simply refuse to capitulate.
When I’m in this ‘pointless space’ I don’t feel depressed or suicidal. On the contrary, in a sense I feel a certain type of freedom for I am not striving to be anything. It’s an odd place to adjust too, to get acquainted with, to relax within particularly if you have spent most of your life filled with ambition and the desire for some form of recognition. Well, that’s about anyone with a parent. I have yet to meet someone born via the immaculate conception. One can only conceptualise that this too comes with a whole heap of psychological problems and imagine Jesus Christ’s therapy bill rolling into six figures. Imagine if ‘HE’ had thought ‘what’s the point?’, dropped the cross and scarpered into the forest to pursue his carpentry calling. Sunday school would be a whole different affair.
Every morning I read one verse of the bible as I perform my matutinal excretions. It’s an interesting story, kind of wacky if you believe it literally, but amusing with lessons to be learnt dotted here and there amongst the rape, incest, genocide, patricide, homicide and misogyny. Recently as I was reading the end of Genesis, I found myself asking why do people believe this and use it to navigate through life? And then it dawned on me. They need meaning in their lives. Their lives need a point.
That day I wrote down these thoughts:
1. What gives my life meaning?
2. What gives me enjoyment?
3. What drives my life?
4. Why am I doing certain things in my life?
5. What do I need to stop doing and can I stop doing these things?
I felt if I could answer these questions honestly it may provide some insight into my life. Afterall time is limited on this planet, and we only get one chance. A pointless chance, but a chance, nonetheless.
Of course, I had to answer these before I was paralysed again with the thought of ‘What is the point?’
Perhaps the point really is, there is no point. There is absolutely no point to any of this. That it is a pointless existence characterised by what we do. That we give life some sort of meaning. I’m of course talking as an atheist, for if I was a believer, then I would clearly understand ‘the point’, but given that I see this as a godless universe, I am prone to asking the question ‘What is the point?’.
I remember when I left college in my late teens, which I had barely attended. Routinely teachers would approach me in the refectory where I would be frivolously wasting away my day, waiting until I could return home to flitter away the rest of my evening. And they would ask if I would be attending a lesson that day, to which my reply more often than not was a resounding definite: No. George Bernard Shaw once wrote “Youth is the most precious thing in life; it is too bad it has to be wasted on young folk.” He obviously didn’t go to my college. So, after a year of what could only be remarked upon as a canteen education much more than a Kantian, I decided to try an A level in philosophy at another local college. I bought all the books, turned up for 2 lessons and dropped out. The classroom wasn’t for me, but the philosophical literature was.
Indefatigably I worked through the books and found Sartre’s notion of existentialism and humanism a keen favourite that has stuck with me for over 30 years now. We are a person before our essence. Our existence precedes essence. Nothing dictates our character or our goals in life. In short what we do is the point!
Lucky for me, these pointless moments don’t last too long, a couple of days at most before I’m writing, painting or recording and freely disappearing into the moment where the existential questions no longer plague me plangently. I. Just. Be.
Thinking huh… What’s the point?!