The meaning of life
I know, big topic. In a recent conversation with a client, we began talking about something very everyday, something important but not difficult or disturbing. The conversation quickly moved into a conversation about life and death, about what it all means for them, about fear and possibility.
I'm always amazed at how quickly this can happen. It reminds me of the idea in existential thought (and it's not rocket science if you think about it) that all everyday things in our lives are connected in some way to the big questions. Choosing a refrigerator seems entirely mundane, but the choice itself points to many things: that we have a choice at all, that the choice implies how we want our food to be cared for and thus how our lives should look and feel. So many of our everyday choices and questions are connected to this: how do I want to live, given that at some point I will not live.
My client struggles sometimes with this - they are afraid or immobilized. But for all of us this is possible. I don't think it just happens to some - we are all capable of being gripped by this awareness and have to grapple with what it means and how we are to live in its wake.
We live in a culture, I think, that is not very good at having these conversations. One of the things I do as a psychotherapist is to allow for them and sometimes encourage them if I think someone has thus far managed to avoid having them. It's not easy, but I think something all of us need to struggle with. And then return to the everyday and try to live differently.