Borrowing from the back of my copy of Victor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning:
At the heart of his theory is a conviction that the primary human drive is not pleasure but the pursuit of what we find meaningful.
It seems absurd to borrow words from a book on surviving Nazi death camps when I’m mostly thinking about my little life of luxury, but I do find myself in agreement with Frankl. Of late, I’ve spent quite some time contemplating where I find meaning in my life, with regards to both work and play, and I will continue spending time on this subject.
Since meaning is so important, the loss of meaning can be particularly traumatic. The things we choose to spend our lives building are the things things whose loss would hurt us the most.
Consider the loss of something with sentimental value only (created meaning, likely from memories), versus the loss of something with utility value only (something that can be replaced). Consider the White Tribe of Africa and its struggles for meaning and identity in a post-apartheid South Africa (closely related to meaning is a sense of identity). Consider the mid-life crisis in which the meaning of the past is rediscovered to be empty in the present, followed by a struggle for finding some meaning for the future. Consider a mother finding meaning in her children’s lives and happiness, in raising them well, grappling with Empty Nest Syndrome when the children move on.
I think a lot of memetic conflict can be viewed in this light, in terms our pursuit of meaning, and when we have some strong sense of meaning, the defence of it against any that threaten to take it away.
I don’t think I said anything profound in this blog post, but it should serve as an adequate introduction to the theme.