“‘Meaningless! Meaningless!’ says the Teacher. ‘Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.'”
The book of Ecclesiastes paints a bleak picture of life. It describes how cycles of nature repeat and nothing really changes from before. We labor yet we are soon to be forgotten along with our labor.
If that is how he felt then, then how should one feel today? Meaning can be further lost in our current understanding of the vastness of time and space. We rush with an ever quickening pace into a sea of nothingness.
“Then I applied myself to the understanding of wisdom, and also of madness and folly, but I learned that this, too, is a chasing after the wind. For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief.” (Ecclesiastes 1:17-18)
Wisdom goes hand and hand with sorrow because the unwise do not realize they are unwise. So a wise person is often stuck watching the foolishness of others unfold before their eyes without being able to do anything to stop it. Knowledge of the patterns of people and history is often a source of painful helplessness.
What can a compassionate and intelligent person do but mourn the world then bury themselves in pleasurable indulgences so they can forget?
The excesses of king Solomon, the writer of Ecclesiastes, were not a product of foolishness, they were an attempt to escape a maddening reality where all men (wise or foolish) would eventually perish. His knowledge and wisdom made all of his pursuits become empty.
“The wise have eyes in their heads, while the fool walks in the darkness; but I came to realize that the same fate overtakes them both. Then I said to myself, ‘The fate of the fool will overtake me also. What then do I gain by being wise?’ I said to myself, ‘This too is meaningless.’ For the wise, like the fool, will not be long remembered; the days have already come when both have been forgotten. Like the fool, the wise too must die!” (Ecclesiastes 2:14-16)
It is a reality that is inescapable, watching people make the same mistakes over and over again, seeing where the patterns of today will lead, being treated as a fool by those whom you are trying to warn, unable to convince them until it is too late and the die is already cast. It is enough to make a wise person stop wasting their efforts.
This is the battle a writer who wishes to make a difference in the world must face. There is no point in writing if there’s nobody to read or comprehend. We wish to be understood so that others might gain from our experience and insights. But in a world of over seven billion voices who has time to listen? How can true wisdom seperate itself from the inane chatter?
Even my triumphs, even when a blog I write hits a chord and is viewed a thousand times, there is often a feeling of morose that follows. My writing is never good enough and even if it was who’s actually listening? I feel compelled to speak my mind yet then wonder if it is meaningful that I do say a word. I fight off discouragement until it is time to write again.
However, what matters to me ultimately is not the thousands of anonymous visitors here. No, it is the people, small and unimportant to the world, whom I’ve been able to encourage. Whatever lofty ideas I share here matter very little in the end. What matters is those who have found my love to be genuine and will remember someone cared about them.
The meaning in my life doesn’t come from being important to the world. My meaning comes from being remembered and appreciated by those unnoticed and forgotten by the world. If our efforts make a positive difference for one person then it is enough.
My voice might not make much difference in the world. But if I can change the world for one person and give them hope or answers then I have made a world of difference to them.
I find the most meaning in life when I narrow my focus to loving one person.