My grandmother used to say to me, when I was looking for something that was obviously around but I just couldn’t see it, “If it had been a snake it would have bit you.” True enough.
I used to think this applied only to physical objects that had been placed so obviously in view that they disappeared, but now, having been through the radiation therapy part of my cancer battle (we won’t know if it is ‘cured’ until later, if ever), I think that the snake analogy works for other, more important and non-material aspects of life. Like, living it.
I’ve read a few books quite a number of times, books that have a particular resonance with me, and Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises is near the top of that short list. I am reading it yet again, finding things in there that, while I must have previously read them, didn’t stick in my memory. One of those is where Jake Barnes is thinking about life. He says,
“I did not care what it was all about. All I wanted to know was how to live in it. Maybe if you found out how to live in it you learned from that what it was all about.”
After years of reading and searching and talking about life and it’s possible meanings for me and everyone else, this was like the snake that could have bitten me.
There are a gazillion interpretations and beliefs of the meaning of life, including Monty Python’s, and, obviously they can’t all be right. I suspect that it is an unanswerable question and has no real meaning in respect to how and why a human lives. I certainly don’t cotton to anyone else telling me what life means and how to live mine. How could they know? I discount supernatural answers, forces and beings from consideration. That’s the same as saying we don’t know.
Now, after hearing the doorbell of mortality ringing, ringing for me, I think the answer to the meaning of my life is like that snake, only, this time it bit me. Yes, now I want to understand how to live in it, and maybe, as Jake thought, that might teach me something about what it is all about