Life without meaning

August 27 2013

I'm looking for responses here; advice from you. I'm 30 years old and much of the sense of purpose in my life has drifted away.

When I was younger I had aspirations to do two things: to become a biologist and to write music. Those pursuits were intended to give a backbone to my life. To expand the boundaries of human knowledge and to create a permanent record of my thoughts passed down through the ages.

As I got older those things became less satisfying. The realities of life as a biologist turned me off from pursuing it as a career. As for music, the idea that it is in any way permanent began to feel absurd. Technology and ephemeral taste and the vast expanse of existing music will certainly obliterate anything I create over a couple hundred years. A thousand and I'm definitely toast.

Without those guiding principles in my life though, I'm not sure how to feel about my time on earth. I've found a profession I can sustain, but the world is not enriched by my output. I wouldn't even know what kind of work would enrich the world. Life has simply come to feel curiously meaningless. Not in a depressing way, I just feel now that I'm an observer. I feel like I'm just smelling the flowers, diverting myself before I go off to die.

It's not a terrible outlook, in fact I consider myself very lucky in my circumstances on earth, but it's not exactly pleasant either. I'm curios if you've encountered this feeling -- I'd love to know how you've dealt with it, particularly if you are older. I'm afraid to say I think this outlook is at least partly shaded by age, by having found the limits of your own ability.

Looking forward to hearing from you,

Devin Riley
[email protected]
San Francisco

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