The Meaning of Life

Ring… ring…

RECORDING:  You have reached the offices of Meaning of Life Industries.  This phone call may be recorded for quality assurance.  Please listen carefully as our menu options have changed.  So that we may direct you to the proper department, please select from the following prompts.

Dial 1 if you have questions about religious conceptions of existence, social ties, consciousness and happiness.

Dial 2 if you have questions about the pursuit of well-being and the related conception of morality.

Dial 3 if you have questions pertaining to the purpose of life and how it may coincide with the achievement of ultimate reality, or a feeling of oneness, or a feeling of sacredness.

Dial 4 if you have questions arising out of the fundamental disharmony between the individual’s search for meaning and the apparent meaninglessness of the universe.

Dial 5 if you have questions about the premise that the happiness of the individual person is inextricably linked to the well-being of humanity, as a whole, in part, because humans are social animals, who find meaning in personal relations, and because cultural progress benefits everybody living in the culture and which largely translates as ceasing to endlessly reflect on the self, instead of engaging in life and which on the whole results in the therapeutic response that the question of the meaning of life evaporates if one is fully engaged in life.

ME:  Panic…

RECORDING: Or, you may dial zero at any time to speak to a customer service agent.

ME: Dials zero

Ring… ring…

AGENT: Hello, thank you for calling Meaning of Life Industries, this is Raju, can I get your name please.

ME: Steve

AGENT: Hi Steve, how can I help you today?  Do you have a philosophical question concerning the purpose and significance of life or existence in general?

ME: Ummmm…. no, I’d just like to talk to someone.

AGENT: Okay, I can help you with that.  Are you trying to understand how scientific contributions can focus on describing related empirical facts about the universe?

ME: No… umm… I don’t think so… I’m just feeling kind of lost some days lately.

AGENT: I understand… I’ll be more than happy to help you with that. Are you having questions about the symbolic meaning, ontology, value, purpose, ethics, good and evil, free will, conceptions of God, the existence of God, the soul, or the afterlife?

ME: No… ummm… uhhh… none of those things. I do have a job change coming up…

AGENT: Okay, it would be my sincerest pleasure to help you with that.  Do you find yourself focusing less on humankind’s relationship to God and more on the relationship between individuals and their society?

ME: Uhhh… no… uhh… I’m not sure about that… I write a blog called Brown Road Chronicles and I feel like somehow I should try to take it to the next level… whatever that is.

AGENT: Okay, I am driven with intense joy to help you with that.  We find that is common amongst bloggers, that a lot of them start writing because they are searching for something more meaningful. Let me ask… are you aware that happiness depends upon being self-sufficient and master of one’s mental attitude while suffering is a consequence of false judgments of value, which cause negative emotions and a concomitant vicious character?

ME: Ummm… uhhh… I’m not sure I understand what you mean by that… but my wife thinks maybe I’m just having a little bit of a midlife crisis.

AGENT: Yes, I understand… and I would be incredibly, fantasmically, delighted to help you with that.  Steve, I think maybe we should schedule an appointment for you to have a consultation with one of our Meaning of Life Associates.  Do you have a preference who you’d like to see?

ME: Ummm… no… I don’t know who the choices are.

AGENT: Well, our current staff includes Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Kierkegaard, Epicurus, Nietzsche, Camus and Confucius.

ME: Oh my… I didn’t think all those people were still alive… are those people still alive?

AGENT: No sir, they are not alive… our actual Meaning of Life Associates are… well… we call them “philosopher helpers”… kind of like the Santa Claus you’ve perhaps seen at your local mall.

ME: Oh… okay… well, I don’t know… I guess whoever is available.

AGENT: Okay, good… my whole human consciousness and purpose of life thrives on me helping you with that. We can see who has an open appointment available.  Do you have a preference of which facility you would like to visit… Mt. Everest, Kilimanjaro, Fuji or Kangchenjunga?

ME: Kangchen… what… I’m sorry, what was that last one?

AGENT: Kangchenjunga.

ME: Oh my… where is that?

AGENT: That would be on the border between India and Nepal.

ME: Oh my… ummm… isn’t there anything closer. Don’t you have any offices in Michigan?

AGENT: No, I’m sorry sir, all of our offices are at the tops of mountains. I’m pretty sure there are no mountains in Michigan.

ME: Oh… I see… well, I’m sorry, I don’t think I can get to any of those places… but thank you for your time anyway.

AGENT: Well, I’m sorry I couldn’t help you sir, if you’d like I can transfer you to our automated Meaning of Life, self-help line.

ME: Okay, I guess that would be alright…

AGENT: I’ll transfer you now, thank you for calling Meaning of Life Industries.

Ring… ring…

RECORDING: You have reached the Meaning of Life Industries automated self-help line.  Due to an overwhelming volume of bloggers calling our lines, we are experiencing excessive delays.  Approximate wait time is ten years.

Or, you may dial zero at any time to speak to a customer service agent….


*Thank you to Wikipedia for clarifying what the meaning of life… really means.



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43 responses to “The Meaning of Life

  1. bigsheepcommunications

    You don’t really want a customer service agent, you want a literary agent. You’re going to have to find a different 800 number for that.

  2. Another great story, it baffles me how you can do it, laying awake in bed at night thinking these up and then working the next day.

  3. I am driven with intense joy

  4. Homestead Ramblings

    Take a deep breath, it’ll work out. Always does. 🙂

  5. Steve. Notice I didn’t call you “Cowboy” like usual. You are a great writer. Are you having a moment? As in do you need some bloggerly support or are you just having fun. Because if it is the former, you know how to find me. And I’ll give you my phone number.

    I think you have a lot of talent. I think you are wondering: “Can I make this writing gig pay? Am I even allowed to call myself a writer?” those existential questions that plaque creative types.

    I’m here. Your fabulous. Your wife loves you. The kids, too. Sounds like you’ve got a new job. Good for you. You are doing great. If you need to take a breath, no one is leaving you.

    • Well I was certainly having fun, but yes, having kind of a moment too. I have those every so often! Sure, it would be great to make this a paying gig but I don’t have my hopes high for that, at least anytime soon. But yes, I ask myself those questions all the time, and sometimes I wonder why I spend so much time working on this blog. Its fun, I love it, but ultimately what is the end-game? I don’t really know and sometimes that can be frustrating. Anyhow, thanks so much for the support and the kind and encouraging remarks. I am glad to have connected with so many talented and interesting folks here and as that grows, the resources available grow as well.

  6. I’d say that looking for the purpose of life was a more valuable search than the ‘meaning’ of life. Semantics or meta-linguistics tend to bog down a lot of philosophical and metaphysical endeavours. We can learn a lot from Plato in the way in which he uses the socratic dialogue to highlight how we must first define what it is that we want to know. In terms of the ‘meaning’ of life that can be found in a dictionary. If we are asking does life itself have a meaning or does an individual life have a meaning we must first define what we mean by meaning and ultimately what most people are fundamentally asking is what is the purpose of human life or an individual human life. Now the most popular answer in the 21st century is to be found in Berkeley, now enshrined in the American constitution. That being the pursuit of happiness. Though Berkeley being a utilitarian his version of happiness is a somewhat mathematical one. Happiness also would seem to be different for everyone and so this popular answer is intrinsically as varied in nature as human nature itself. In the end atheist or true believer in God would admit that the purpose of human life or an individual human life is to learn to love and accept both yourself and everyone else in spite of your, their and the world’s trials and tribulations. This is the conclusion that I reached two years ago after 20 years of philosophical reading and a half hour conversation with my wife, engendered when she saw me reading Descartes and asked why I bothered reading philosophy? I said because I was searching for answers as to what human life was about, what was it for and she said ‘Oh that’s simple. Love yourself and everyone else in spite of what happens.’ She got up kissed me on the head and said ‘You do make things complicated’ and wandered off to tend to her garden flowers. Therefore you do not need to go a mountain and find a wise man, just ask your wife, You know they are always right. (Ask the wise man’s wife, in my case literally!)

  7. Margie

    Dial 6 if you have questions about what options 1 to 5 mean in plain English…

  8. Well if you find the right number, let me know will ya. And just for the record, your blog rocks and we love reading it 🙂 I know that’s not a paycheck but hopefully it’s something!!

  9. Nice post – as I look around my living room I see the current books I;m reading, How To Know God by Deepak Chopra and The Amazing Law of Cosmic Mind Power by Joseph Murphy. If I find the “meaning of life” in either of these I can send them on to you.

  10. Excellent post. I know exactly what you’re saying. When we blog, we are saying: Hello, is anybody out there? Any kindred spirits? Anyone who can help me, point me in the right direction?

    There are followers who should lead, and leaders who should follow. But at what point does a follower decide to lead? I think you should accept the position. You’ve nailed blogging. I’m always happy to see Brown Road Chronicles in my In Box.

  11. I’m on it… I think… where are we headed again? 🙂 Seriously though, thank you for the very nice comments. I really do appreciate it and its very motivating!! As I figure out where to lead… I will certainly be here to help.

  12. I read a lot, I mean A LOT of blogs from time to time. Over a hundred. It takes some serious chops to get me to subscribe, but you did it with this one. I’m also enjoying reading back, as a former El Lay city dweller now living in the semi-boonies (pop. 9,000). My Mom spent most of her life at the end of brown roads, so I appreciate that kind of environment.

  13. Man, I don’t how you think of all these things…so great to read though. You sure come up with great stuff.

  14. As do I Steve. Your stuff is so good. Too bad we are so far apart….would be cool to drink a beer with ya sometime.

  15. Interesting Post Steve, I never realized the Quest to find the meaning of Life was so complicated. In reality, I think the answer is right in front of us and we just think that you have to jump over a pool of sharks on a vintage Harley (with a star-studded cape, I must add) to be able to comprehend all the finer points of the Great Mystery. No, just take the Box and forget curtain number 2. I’ll be back….

  16. Ha Ha I loved this post Steve. It’s really funny. .

  17. Pingback: Sunday Love « Lessons From Teachers and Twits

  18. Pingback: The 100th Subscriber Contest | The Brown Road Chronicles

  19. Nice to meet you here at Susie’s party. I think I’ve seen you before at another party she had. 🙂 I absolutely love this post! Brilliantly written.

  20. This is hilarious! I could hear the operator’s accent. Too bad there isn’t a real hot line! 🙂
    Thanks for bringing it to the party!

  21. I love this post, thanks for sharing it at Susie’s party!

  22. I kept chuckling throughout this post, you’ve really captured the confusion and agony of calling in to any help line, let alone discerning the meaning of life! Thanks for sharing on Susie’s blog!

  23. Hi, Susie … sent me – this is so BRILLIANT… this brings me back when I had problems with my security program a couple fo years ago. As Susie, say … I can hear the agents accent. This I just have to reblogg .. thanks for fantastic moment.

  24. Reblogged this on myguiltypleasures and commented:
    This is priceless … just have to share it … with everybody.

  25. Hi there! Susie Sent me. Great blog! You have the customer service agent down pat.
    My contribution is a short story from about a week ago.

  26. Awesome post! I am so glad to find this in Viveka’s MyGuiltyPleasure, thanks for sharing!

  27. laketranslations

    Susie sent me! Loved your post and I added your blog to our reading list and I’m also sharing it on FB, Twitter, G+ and Pinterest

  28. Found you through Susie’s blog and I’m so glad I did! Automated help to uncover the meaning of life, etc…there are days where I think that’s exactly where we’re headed and I can’t help but laugh. Between automated phone systems and computers designed to think like people, pretty soon there will be no reason for anyone to reach out to another human being. 😉

  29. Priceless. Hope you find whatever it is you are looking for 🙂

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