Aaron Harburg


If I could draw a line between fantasy and reality I would draw it here. At the meeting point of pain and purpose, pleasure and meaning. But there is no line. Life is the navigation of our consciousness between pockets of reality, memory, possibility and fantasy. Does my existence with all of its fragility have any meaning? The only thing certain, the only vantage point I can be sure of in a horizon-less tumble from idea and experience, sensation, perception, action and reaction is that this existential adventure as I know it now, will end.


Is not life a perpetual dying? If not the constant physical processes leading to the termination of essential physiological functions, it is a series of moments going in and out of existence with none the same as the other. Maybe it is precisely in its shortness that life gains its beauty.

What is the purpose of my person? No matter how much I pursue pleasure it will elude me, for pleasure doesn’t exist on its own. It’s always a byproduct of another activity which eventually either boredom or old age will eliminate. What about aesthetic and intellectual epiphanies? These are even more elusive, which is part of why they are so powerful. What left can I control? What left can I look to make sense of my experience? Especially when next to death nothing is so sure as suffering.


I alone can decide if my life has meaning. If my suffering and my joys my struggles and successes have any purpose at all. But how?

 It is when I distance myself from the utilitarian mantra of “efficiency maximized is pleasure multiplied” that I discover it is in the tensions that I have hope. Perhaps when my life is done, my name is forgotten and my work destroyed I will exist somehow else, eternally.

In the honest pursuit of truth, life gains a relief that is obscured by one dimensional addictions to limited ends which oft are pursued without knowing why, simply because the means are so overwhelming, captivating or resource encompassing.

I need to stop and let silence speak.

But it is not some formless force, irrational and arbitrary imagining that I define how my life has meaning. It is a rational but mysterious, coherent but confounding ordered and ethereal set of ideals, emerging in observations of the world. Understandings formed by a combination of visceral and intuitive apprehensions that finds congruence in actual historical events and is perfectly incarnated in individuals. Exemplified by people who conform themselves to ideals subjugating the irrational, chaotic and antagonizing dimensions of themselves to a hierarchy of values. It is the person that is the seat of meaning.

For meaning is not a substance that exists in itself like sand. Else it could be easily shifted and shaped without any internal determination. Meaning is necessarily subjective. Ultimately meaning lies in relationship. A relationship between persons. For a relationship to having meaning it must be known by at least one who knows it is being known. Thus the highest meanings occur when a relationship is shared between more than just one being. Need I say that word which describes that most meaningful of relationships? Need I name that indescribable, properly indestructible connection? We all feel and know it’s antithesis. We feel it’s enemy towards ourselves for even having known that there was an opposite to this “L” word. Yet this type of relationship is not safe. It requires, by its very nature sacrifice. If we don’t know the end to be worth the means no amount of fear, guilt or shame will motivate us to do so. For the sacrifice it calls for is total, complete it is the very seat of its existence.