by Beau Hebert
Dear The Beauster:
What’s the point, man? What’s the point of all this?
Existentially Confused Hillman City Man
Dear E C-fused H-C-M,
Wow, what a question! Hillman City always brings it. You seem to be asking the age-old query: “What is the meaning of life?” Which, if I had a ready answer to, I’d likely be sitting atop a sacred mountain emanating pure cosmic light energy instead of slogging through the daily grind with the flickering luminescence of a dying appliance light bulb. That, however, won’t prevent me from offering my best advice.
Your question has bewitched and beguiled mystics; frustrated and fretted philosophers; taunted and teased poets, and rattled the brain of every self-questioning human since the dawn of consciousness. It could be said that both religion and science, each in their own way, came into being to explain just what in the hell is going on, or in your words dear H-C-M, “what’s the point of all this?”
But neither spiritual adherents nor scientists have managed to solve the ancient puzzle. Attempts to placate the gnawing mystery of existence have inspired many manner of bizarre rituals, beliefs and activities ranging from animal sacrifice and magical garments to whirling around in circles and self-mutilation. But to what end?
The Buddha’s smirk seemed to indicate that he possessed the answer but he never bothered sharing it with anyone. In the novel The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, it was concluded that the number “42,” was the meaning of life. This seems as plausible as anything else I’ve heard, though I deeply suspect that there really is no point at all. To assume that there is purpose, or a point, imposes a human value on the very fact of being, which is a much grander thing. Why are we all so obsessed with points?.
While I’m not convinced that there’s any underlying meaning to this business of existence, I do believe that engagement in the exact present moment can connect oneself to the mystery of the universe. Getting out in nature seems to help induce this awareness of reality; engagement in the now, the ever-moving tippy-tip of reality pinioned between the receding past and the approaching future; the extreme apex of the time-space continuum as it unspools itself.
So the way I see it H-C-M, is that at the end of the day you can either enter the eye of that needle and go deep into the existential dilemma, renouncing your ego and all your worldly possessions. But, if after a lifetime of self-denial and piety, it turns out that there is simply no point at all, you’ll feel existentially punked. Therefore, why not rejoice in the mysterious beauty of life by cultivating friendships and fully enjoying the sights, sounds, flavors and good times to be had on this crazy ride. Grab a flask of whiskey, head out to a forest and mesh with nature in all its pointless glory!
Beau Hebert is the owner of Jude’s Old Town in Rainier Beach and Lottie’s Lounge in Columbia City.
Illustration by Lou Patnode