It was the end of a tiring, annoying day, and the overwhelming emotion was “bugger it!” Caroline would never employ such coarse language, of course, but she still expressed herself in a surprising way: “You can have all the purpose and meaning of life in the world,” she said, “or, you can just have a great glass of wine. It’s all the same in the end; I mean, we’re all going down — aren’t we?”
We looked at each other in shock for a moment before all the complicated emotions of the day exploded into laughter. The fact is, we both spend one day after another preoccupied with finding purpose and giving meaning to life — but there’s a point at which you just stop taking yourself seriously and let go. Sometimes short-term catharsis trumps profound universal truth.
The idea of Truth has driven ethical philosophers and spiritual seekers for thousands of years, and it’s not a bad thing, but it’s still just an idea. The reality of life is that no matter what we believe, we don’t know much, and probably never will. You might call ‘I don’t know’ the truth that underlies everything. It doesn’t mean we give up, or lose heart. It’s just that when it stands before you in all its irrefutable glory, words and ideas cease, not to mention pretentions of knowledge and righteousness. All that’s left is consciousness itself; it’s as if we’re tricked into pure mindfulness by the blatent bankrupcy of theorizing. It’s a good thing. There’s no harm in a glass of good wine, and there may be hidden splendors. In those moments of visceral mindfulness, it’s not what you do that matters; it’s how you do it.