What’s the meaning of it all?

WHAT is the meaning of it all? I ask myself.

And I am not looking for an answer that involves heaven. It’s not death I’m curious about ­– it’s life.

So far this morning I have drunk two cups of tea, eaten three slices of toast, sworn at the dog and read the newspaper.

Where’s the higher purpose in that!

Take my advice – stay away from questions like these. They’ll only make you miserable. I don’t know if it’s the same for John Howard. I mean, does he ever stare out the window and ask himself: what’s the meaning of it all?

And if he does, does he have the answer. Does he say: “Bossing people about, that’s what!” and pat the dog smugly?

And what about Nicole Kidman? Is the answer to life the universe and everything dressing up and pretending you’re someone else in front of a camera?

I even looked it up on the internet. They say you can find anything on the internet, but they’re wrong. There are two things that have vanished from the earth entirely, even from the internet.

One is the little gadget I light the gas cooker with, and the other is The Meaning Of It All.

I tried checking it out historically. All I found was that on this day in history an awful lot of wars were fought, various religious groups were persecuted, and a number of sports records were broken. Try it yourself – you don’t have to choose today, pick any day. It’s always religion, wars and sport.

And, curiously, sport has only surfaced in the past 70 years. For more than a 1000 years before that it was wall-to-wall war and religion.

That’s it then… I have no place here. I have never fought in a war, I have absolutely no religious affiliation, and I’ve never broken a sports record.

Like 95 per cent of the rest of the world I am left with an uneasy feeling that I don’t belong. Not unless the meaning of it all involves newspapers, food and bottles of wine.

Of course, all this thinking started me… well, thinking. What if I dropped dead tomorrow? What would define my life’s work in, say, a sentence? What would they write on my headstone, for instance?

“Goodbye?” suggested my wife.

But would I feel fulfilled if it read: He was Prime Minister of Australia? He was a celebrated movie actor? He tortured several hundred religious zealots; or he pillaged and raped his way across several continents?

He jumped, ran, threw, lifted higher faster and heavier than anyone else?

No… it’s not happening for me. I do not want to be these people.

Curing cancer has some appeal, but I’ve probably left it a bit late for that.

And that, of course, is the heart of the problem. I should have thought about it when I was young enough to make it happen. But we don’t think about the meaning of it all when we’re young. (John Howard probably did, but I bet he was prefect at school, too).

I thought the problem was that I lacked ambition, but I realise now that the problem is I’m too ambitious!

I want my headstone to read: He found The Meaning Of It All.

There’s still time for that, if I hurry.

I think I’ll have another cup of tea and give it some thought.