Should We Fold Our Arms and Just Sleep Because Everything is Meaningless?
Today's post is inspired by a quote I read from Ecclesiastes which is one of the books of the Old Testament in the Bible. And the quote taken from Ecclesiastes 3: 19 says:
"Surely the fate of human beings is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so does the other. All have the same breath; humans have no advantage over animals, everything is meaningless."
Prior to this striking verse, Solomon (believed to be the author) has made reference to the fact that there is nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction from one's toil. And was of the opinion that all his wealth, wisdom and knowlege which ultimately would be passed onto someone else is pretty meaningless as everything will be pretty much forgotten (the wise and the foolish, the rich and poor), nothing is really remembered for long.
While I get the point Solomon was trying to make about the meanignless of things, I am of the opinion that the understanding of this needs to be clarified. The quote is not a call to live life recklessly or to do nothing or even to stop aspiring towards anything because "Everything is meaningless or life is meaningless.."
It is not a call to be lazy and waste our time on unnecessary stuff as life is meaningless, so lets just behave as we want. No. And this is what needs to be highlighted.
Solomon lived his life to the full to get to this realization. He gained wisdom, he ruled over Israel as king, he built houses, planted vineyards, owned herds and flocks, amassed a lot of silver and gold. This guy took 700 wives and 300 concubines. a record! I mean this guy was set up for life. He could get anything he wanted. But at the end of it all realized the meaningless of everything.
Personally, I do not think he could have come to this realization if he was lazy or if as a king he did not rule with wisdom. He could have been overthrown or maybe had been a servant who has to work in Israel every day for the rest of his life. I do not think he would have found the time to think that life is meaningless if that had been his fate? He would have had to work for the rest of his life with no time to think.
Solomon could only get to the point of this realization because he could afford himself the luxury of time to ponder deeply about life. If he had not make great choices to afford him such luxury, I do not think we would have the book of Ecclesiastes.
So the point I am trying to make here is that Solomon was at a level he could get anything he wanted before realizing the meaningless of everything. So if you are still at the stage where you are trying to get financially free or working to set up a business or pursuing some degree or training that can help you earn more which buys you more freedom to think.. and you decide to abandon all your dreams and goals because ... life is meaningless.. then you are setting up yourself for disaster and you will learn the hard way that there is some meaning to life.. :)
So having made this concern clear, I think Solomon made the initial quote as a way of encouraging us to focus on what really matters and to enjoy as we pursue our dreams. In one of the verse he asks what if the one who would have control over all the fruits of his labor decides to squander and waste it? What gain is there for him? He toiled, he worked and it all goes to waste.
So his point really is on taking time to enjoy ourselves in the midst of all our pursuits in life. He says the enjoyment of life is a gift. We should always make out time to enjoy the fruits of our toils while we are at it and not wait for some time in future to do so. It is not a call to abandon all pursuits, fold arms and sleep because what's the point? If we do that, we will suffer greatly and lose time.
It is a call to commit towards the enjoyment of yourself in whatever toil you find yourself. It is finding that satisfaction and happiness in whatever you have chosen to do that really counts.
This is my understanding of what Solomon is trying to say when he says "Everything is Meaningless".
I would like to know your thoughts on this.
Derive satisfaction in your toil and keep winning!