Troubled Sleep

What is the meaning of life anyway?

Does it have to do with the shape of high-altitude snow crystals before they hit the tops of mountains and then blow off in the wind? Maybe the answer is embedded in the mysteries of love, which, let’s face it, no one really understands or only pretends to. Could the answer wash up on a Hawaiian beach into a pile of heart-shaped drift seeds?

As we age, keeping a lid on the stray thoughts that manifest throughout the day, striking out, plunging through, deep in the brain, becomes increasingly difficult. I am talking to you and suddenly blow up, not physically, but emotionally. My computer goes on the blink, and suddenly I am a raving lunatic with all the rights guaranteed under the extended warranty.

Does it have something to do with God as Buber conceived Him, emerging from dialogue over a glass of wine in a quiet café in Jerusalem? Or does it have to do with what came up for Descartes as he sat in a chair along the Left Bank contemplating the flow of water under bridges? Maybe it has to do with Sartre as he wondered why his sleep was troubled even though life after the Great War was actually pretty damn good?

I do not know, and so I slip back into the past, looking for unturned stones from childhood with which to pelt the unpleasantness of the present as it unfolds into and becomes the future. Two homemade ancient incantation bowls in my living room—What do they mean? That I have succumbed to the magic of the moment, the way of the hoi polloi rather than the way of Zen? I do not think so.

The snow is lovely today, soft and powdery, cold, slippery enough for my skis to gain elevation while lifting me into the arms of eternity for one last run on the slopes—if only I skied. In the past I would process my way out of and into anything. Women, past and present, would take shape on the vast tableau of nature unfurling her flag of hope across the embattled sky in a stunning, spectacular metaphorical haze of mixed-up explanations of the meaning of life. Yet in this very moment I cannot continue, ever so quickly, to adjust my thinking to unsolve the problem of space and time as manifested in the linearity of Wittgenstein, an absence spoken out of tune in a Mozartian fountain of musical folly.

No. No, indeed. And so this question, at least for now, must remain unsolved as well as absolved of the weight loaded onto it these many millennia since humankind first began asking questions, asking this question in particular.