So I tend to get a lot of requests for interviews and such. Mostly because I’m a comedian who is fairly political, I get a lot of “Hey can you give us a few words on why XXXX is an idiot?” One look at my twitter feed you’ll see that snarky is in my wheelhouse.
So I open up this interview request and there’s 1 question: “What is the meaning of life?” My first thought is: I’m gonna need a bigger cup of coffee.
I hate to admit when I don’t know things. It makes me feel like I haven’t done enough research. My go to research outlets were useless on this one. Siri just gives a wise ass answer, Google is no help, and that vast resource of all the world’s knowledge, Wikipedia, is useless on this. Crap! I kinda have to think.
Is it wrong that the scifi geek in me just wants to type in a huge “42” and let the bewilderment begin?
Here’s the thing though, I did the research, I looked at me. And you gotta look at you, that’s what everything is about. The center of the question “What is the meaning of life” is really just a question on what you value, who you are, and what you believe in.
So many people in my life have different answers. I have religious people who think life is meant for us all to be a reflection of God’s Love. I’m surrounded by artists, who believe that creating is the meaning of life, and people I know and respect say it’s all about their kids and providing a better world for them. I even have a Wall Street friend who says the meaning of life is to make as much money as you can and screw whoever gets in your way, but confidentially, he’s just an ass.
Is it too late for me to type “42” and hit send?
Even for me the answer changes. When I was a young man, the meaning of life was amassing memories. I lived like a Roman emperor, I wanted to drink all the wine, touch all there is to feel, and see everything under the sun. That’s what I said I was doing. In reality I was doing too many shots, feeling my way home in a drunken stupor and seeing America one Knight’s Inn at a time.
In my thirties it became leaving a legacy. I wanted the world to know I was here. I wrote plays and get a book published. When I’m gone, I thought, people will know I was here. And, not bashfully, I do think they’ll know I was here.
I’m just not sure they’ll care.
Now that I’m older, and yes I have come to grips that I am on the back 9 of my lifetime, legacy has little meaning — at least that type of legacy.
In August of 2014 I had an accident, and suffered a concussion. Not a,” sit out the rest of the game” type of concussion, more like a “whatever happened to…” kind of concussion. For the last 17 months, through the procedures, surgeries, and slow recovery I’ve learned the meaning of life, at least the meaning of my life.
You should lean in closer to the screen like you’re getting told a secret. Don’t tell anyone else this. OK, tell people you love but not the ass that just chases wealth.
For me, I learned meaning through loss. For months my memory wasn’t good enough for me to perform stand up, at least not to the degree I was capable of. I thought I’d miss the adulation, other comics telling me I was great, or the money, or the travel. It was none of that. I missed the laughter. Seeing faces smile, eyes light up and hearing the laughter. I missed that to the point where my heart felt the void.
I learned that I have people who love me to the point where they take care of me when I’m too angry to want to take care of myself. I had a best friend who helped me keep track of days. Another friend who made sure I stayed creative because he understood I had to. I even had a great woman who stood by me when I couldn’t quite remember where I lived. I had an idea, but I wasn’t really sure…
None of them did it out of obligation, they did it out of love.
I also learned another layer of the meaning of life as I recovered. I used to be able to name the states and countries I performed in, in the order I performed in them. It was a long list and a point of pride that I had it down cold.
It’s gone forever and surprisingly I really don’t care.
On the other hand I can no longer remember the sound of my mother or father’s voice. I know I could remember it before the accident, but now…
I’d give anything to remember it again.
See, the meaning of life isn’t any of the things I’ve said, or any of the things I’ve lost. The meaning of life is much like tomorrow, by the time you got it down, it’s already come and gone and a new tomorrow is right around the corner. The meaning of life is today. To embrace what you have and what you are today. To do the best with the gifts you have today. See, I believe, we make the world a better place by living a fully examined life.
And if that doesn’t work for you, 42.
~Jim Mendrinos, Comedian, Author, Pundit and Producer
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