The challenging line in the title is from “The Fall” by Albert Camus. I’ll let it stand on its own (where it belongs) for the most part. The quote is not about religion, but about where we find meaning, and that we have to find meaning somewhere, anywhere, in order to survive.
I usually stop for a minute when the old existential question about life’s meaning hits me on the head. More often than not it happens on a long walk back home from somewhere far away (where much beer was served) at some godforsaken hour. I stop, and kind of chuckle at the absurdity of all my little pursuits. The feeling fades, and the urgency of some new task or deadline takes over.
I like reading Camus, Nietzsche, Hesse, and all the folks disturbed throughout their productive lifetimes by questions to which they never really found satisfactory answers. They’re struggling with the impossibly uncertain moment of death. They’re lab mice that stop to ponder the maze on their way to the cheese, and in so doing have shaken the very essence of what it means to enjoy a piece of cheese.
It’s all very humbling, just like the experience of talking through a research problem with someone much smarter than me, just like grappling with someone much more skilled than me.