I blame my father for this - he’s the one who majored in philosophy.
It goes like this — the systems and institutions that attempt to give meaning to life (empirical, religious, philosophical, material, cultural, etc) all fail at some point or another. There’s always a “yeah…but” that makes the house of cards (or stones, even) crumble.
Stated another way, if any of them were perfect, we’d all be doing “it”, and we’re not. So right there’s your proof that they all fail.
So that leaves generated meaning. The meaning that exists in life is what we bring to it and create from it.
Not bad. Got that American cowboy feeling to it.
Except that then there’s nothing firm to stand upon - no house of cards for shelter. No way of ever being “right” except saying “well, it’s worked out well for me so far”. That’s not very doggone definite or meaningful - just utilitarian. Not a path to a larger truth.
I’m going up in smoke over here, trying to figure out the “right” way to live my life vis a vis being a mother, raising kids, making all those choices. All I can come up with is - well, X works for me, and Y does not. Never mind that 4 out of 5 dentists surveyed would argue for Y; never mind that family pressures point to Y; never mind that girlfriends and experts recommend Y (at least some of them); for me, it’s X. That’s my unique experience in this life.
In fact, I could argue for several of my X’s – choices that I’ve made that I believe EVERYONE “ought” to make, because they’re “right”.
Except that other people have eloquent and persuasive reasons for their choices. It invariably turns out, my picks were only right for me. And I’m not a universal truth.
So that means that my meaning has no meaning — it’s just my own, personal, meaningless experience. It’s not adding up to something Bigger.
I liked it better when I thought I was a universal truth, or on my way to becoming one.