I recently attended a lecture reading by Ander Monson. His essay, "Long Live the Jart" was interesting and useful, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. However, the introduction given him as an artist leaves me wondering: is there really meaning in everything? Should we find meaning in everything?
My initial reaction was that we should not - some things are more important than others, and though there is some value to the unheroic, claiming that all things have meaning is very near to rendering all things meaningless. Granted, that is a relational view of meaning; meaning is meaning only if it is more important than something else. And that's not quite fair - there is some type of intrinsic value, even from a subjective perspective; all things can have meaning to me, even if they are not all heroic.
That perhaps is the key - all things can have meaning, but meaning is not a guarantee of quality. Whether I like it or not, every moment of my life has meaning for me - has an impact. I've heard it said that it is imprinted on our bodies- the Bible talks about the word of God being written into the fleshy tablets of our hearts; or about the show of our countenance. At a conference I attended recently, someone speaking of those in combat gave the idea that what one thinks about all the time is what one becomes. And, apparently, it shows.
Perhaps that's why I have an interest in dreams- Jung is fascinating for me, though I don't hold too much truck with the 'collective subconscious.' I don't think we are connected in quite that way; if we are, it's a reflection of a shared past, seen through a glass darkly, and not face to face.
I've woken from sleep and felt renewed, recharged, coming out of dreams remembered only as passing. Other times, I've awoken furious based on dreams simmering below the surface of my memory. My own religion - vindicated dozens of times by my experience! - teaches that dreams are one route of communication between God and man.
So my thoughts, even my sleeping thoughts, show whom I am, whom and what I am becoming - that I am known by God as one day I hope to know. - Face to face, no longer in part, knowing both Him and Me as I am known.
Life, then, is impact control. If I want to live in a way that is common and low, those moments have meaning: they make me common and low. And should I become a writer and could draw the meaning out of a single raindrop, paint a landscape in a garbage can, see the universe in my empty bag of potato chips: even so, my life would consist of garbage cans, single raindrops, and empty mylar bags. Meaningless meaning; impact, but no ennoblement; change, but not improvement.
Again, I mistake - the writers journey is like repentance; it's not satisfying unless one comes away with some victory, growth, or improvement at the end. But I don't want to live for and in single raindrops and empty bags. I want a life of thunderstorms and feasting and fasting, not one of fast food.
In a rat race, even if one wins, one is still a rat. Describing my prison cell - seeing the beauty and joy and terror in it- is a good reaction to being in prison, but how much better to burst the bonds?