What’s the meaning of life? Quite a complex question really, for which there is no real answer. However if anyone can offer a decent dialogue based on that question, it’s American astrophysicist and all-round know-it-all Neil deGrasse Tyson.
Here’s his response to a 6-year-old who asked him that very question the other night, along with video footage below:
So – what is the meaning of life? I think people ask that question on the assumption that ‘meaning’ is something you can look for and go, ‘Here it is, I found it. Here’s the meaning. I’ve been looking for.’ That scenario, however, doesn’t consider the possibility that ‘meaning’ is something you create. You manufacture it for yourself and for others.
So when I think of ‘meaning’ in life, I ask, ‘Did I learn something today that I didn’t know yesterday, bringing me a little closer to knowing all that can be known in the universe?’ If I live a day and I don’t know a little more than I did the day before, I think I wasted that day. So the people who, at the end of the school year, say ‘The summer! I don’t have to think anymore!’ – I just don’t know. To think brings you closer to nature. To learn how things work gives you power to influence events. Gives you power to help people who may need it – to help yourself and your trajectory.
So when I think of the meaning of life, that’s not an eternal and unanswerable question – to me, that’s in arm’s reach of me everyday. So to you, at age six-and-three-quarters, may I suggest that you explore nature as much as you possibly can. And occasionally that means getting your clothes dirty because you might want to jump into puddles and your parents don’t want you to do that. You tell them that I gave you permission.
Would you like to be as brainy as Neil? Check out these 8 books he recommended the other week — it’s a good place to start.