Life is (Finding) Meaning

The empty expanses of the Utah/Nevada desert along Highway 50

I've only now just finished listening to Derek Siver's latest conference talk "The Meaning of Life", and can only encourage everyone else to watch (or listen to) it as soon as possible.

As someone whose life work exists on a series of computer hard drives it hits pretty close to home. I regularly question what I'd do if a massive solar flare hit Earth and wiped out every electronic known to man. I mean sure, my skills as a designer/developer are pretty damn valuable right now, but when everything's reset back to the 1850's would that skillset really matter? Should I be developing practical skills like hunting and fire building instead? It's enough to give anyone an mid-life crisis.

Either way, my main point in writing is that while I loved hearing Sivers so casually questioning the meaning of life with his children's storybook reading voice (seriously), I unfortunately was disappointed by his ending. After working through the questions of "Life is Time", "Life is Memory", and "Life is Learning", he concludes that we all inevitably assign our own meaning to these different questions; and therefore apparently life is (just) life.

While I don't necessarily disagree with this statement, I think there's a better answer than the one he gave - one hidden right in plain site throughout his entire presentation:

Life is (Finding) Meaning

To some this might seem like a disappointing cop-out to a question for which we all want a singular clear answer, but I see it as a beautiful symbol of the unique quality of being human. While other species seem to exist purely to reproduce, we instead explore, invent, and question why we exist, and in doing so (hopefully) eventually find our own reason to persist. Whether that's a religion, your spouse, or rock climbing in a remote mountain range hours from any sort of civilization, the meaning of life for yourself is whatever you find it to be.