There Must Be A Reason For It All

When I was a junior in high school, as part of the International Baccalaureate program at my school I took a mandatory philosophy class called “Theory of Knowledge” (which we invariably shortened as ToK) which was taught by an enthusiastic and philosophical man with a great love for the deeper meanings of pop songs and an appreciation for such vitally important matters as epistemology and wrestling with the deeper questions of life and existence. His name was Mr. George Lukacs, and he now is apparently the head of the English department at one of Tampa’s privileged private schools, which is a nice step up after having been homeless for a time in his earlier years. One of the songs that we studied as part of our philosophy class was a melancholy song with a countermelody sung in the form of a dialogue between two people making sense of the death of a lonely old woman whose body was not found for months and which led to a period of soul searching in Australia over the abandonment and unconcern for the elderly. Being a person who has similarly generally felt somewhat marginal wherever I have been [1], I have often struggled to find the reason for it all, and it took me a long time to figure out why those who are powerful and centrally based would ever feel any sort of fear or concern about little ol’ me.

The song happened to be called “A Reason For It All,” and it was performed by Australian singer Eric Bogle [2] (who, to my knowledge, is not particularly well-known within the United States, but fortunately my teacher had a taste for 70’s folk-rock). The song itself wrestles with the tendency in our lives we have to seek for meaning [3]. A common but no less profound insight of our troubled era has been the understanding of philosophical people that nearly anything can be endured if one finds meaning in it. There are some, like the atheists of our age who believe that no intrinsic meaning exists but that the meaning has to be cut out of whole cloth and created in our own minds for the sake of what sanity we possess, while there are others (myself included) who believe that there is meaning wrapped up in life’s occurrences, even if that meaning may not always be very obvious or straightforward. Likewise, all life has value and worth, and is worthy of love and respect simply for existing, apart from any sort of utilitarian value or pleasure.

Given the fact that I am a person whose life has always taken a very complicated and unusual route, sometimes as the result of deliberate plan, sometimes the result of opportunistic improvisation, and sometimes as the result of that which was never even within my own remotest expectations or consideration. As someone who at least potentially scrutinizes every person and interaction, and who is painfully aware of the scrutiny that I am under, the search for meaning is a major part of our existence. Sometimes the meanings that are found are not even close to the meanings that exist, but our tendencies for error do not mean that no meaning exists, it is merely that our ability to grasp meaning is limited by our knowledge, our hopes and fears, and the limits of our perception and awareness. Being honest and candid about those limitations keeps us humble, and alert to ways that improve our judgment.

While the narrator of Eric Bogle’s song expressed concern that we could be driven mad in the search for meaning, in reality the meaning is what keeps us from being driven mad by the odd twists and turns and absurdity of our lives. Sometimes the meanings of events may not be particularly personal or profound, that may simply result from time and chance or being at the wrong place at the wrong time, which is something that all of us have to deal with. Nevertheless, there is sometimes great meaning in the little details of our lives, and if we are compelled to seek them out, then let us not be discouraged by the fact that such meanings fill our existence. Rather, let us be encouraged that there must be a reason for it all, even if we have to wait a long time for that reason to show itself.

[1] A tendency I have often written about:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2013/08/12/inside-wants-out-outside-wants-in/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2012/12/07/inside-wants-out-outsider-wants-in/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/02/21/the-breathtaking-beauty-of-pain/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/02/18/there-is-always-something-left-to-lose/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/02/15/book-review-the-warriors-apprentice/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/02/02/why-i-want-the-seattle-seahawks-to-win-this-years-super-bowl/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/01/30/negev-bloom/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/01/22/cross-that-line/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/01/15/push-and-pull/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/01/08/starry-starry-night/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2013/12/28/to-reflect-his-glory-by-living-well-in-a-pocket-of-his-kingdom/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2013/12/25/fuel-to-the-fire/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2013/12/17/extra-ecclesiam-nulla-salus/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2013/12/04/what-kind-of-story/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2013/11/27/i-believe-we-place-our-happiness-in-other-peoples-hands/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2013/11/15/a-certain-want-of-spirit/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2013/11/14/book-review-making-haste-from-babylon/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2013/11/11/caught-in-between/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2013/11/02/book-review-the-stress-of-life/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2013/11/01/im-not-a-stone-im-just-a-man/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2013/10/27/were-on-each-others-team/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2013/10/26/a-cave-without-limit/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2013/10/24/scraps-from-the-masters-table/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2013/09/27/hell-is-other-people/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2013/09/07/and-say-all-kinds-of-evil-agianst-you-falsely-for-my-sake/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2013/09/06/a-vagabond-in-vagabond-land/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2013/09/03/book-review-every-waking-moment/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2013/09/02/dont-leave-until-they-throw-you-out/

[2] http://ericbogle.net/lyrics/lyricspdf/areasonforitall.pdf

[3] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2012/04/18/book-review-mans-search-for-meaning/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/02/16/younger-now-than-we-were-then/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/02/12/never-been-to-scapoose/

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Christianity, History, Music History, Musings and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to There Must Be A Reason For It All

  1. This particular blog has deep personal significance, for I’m passionately opposed to the nihilistic philosophy that being is, of itself, without meaning. People may subjective disagree, but the objective view begs otherwise; for Being always was–before any created dimension–yet life itself innately held purpose, otherwise nothing would have come into existence. There would have been no reason or purpose for it.

    Your last few sentences reminded me of a section that I memorized in high school from “Spoon River Anthology” about Miniver Cheevy (If I recall correctly). Two ships in the harbor were engraved on his tombstone, and he was musing that such had been his life, not his destination. He summarized by stating that “life without meaning is the torture of restlessness and vague desire; it is a boat longing for the sea, and yet afraid.” I’ve always remembered this bit of wisdom. We have to recognize opportunity when it presents itself (and discern it as genuine) and go for it. What a terrible feeling it must be to look back on an unfulfilled life.

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