The meaning of life is impossible to describe, but I’ll try my best. It’s love. It’s happiness. It’s the smell of a warm Pop-Tart in the morning, and a bite of that same Pop-Tart, stale and cold, at night.
It’s the feeling of pure joy when you hold your newborn baby girl in your arms for the first time, right after going to Six Flags and experiencing the thrill of a new roller coaster (sponsored by Takis). It’s the taste of a fresh strawberry off the vine, and the tingle on your lips when you have an allergic reaction to the strawberry (you brought an EpiPen). It’s the injection of the EpiPen; it’s arriving at your favorite ATM only to find it’s a Legal Seafood now.
You know the feelings I’m talking about, don’t you? The universal connection to the world I’m describing here that’s so central to our purpose on Earth? The feeling you get when you hear the sounds of a marimba in the month of June, taste Dijon honey mustard on a cold winter’s day, or whisper dark secrets to the moon?
I’ll be more specific. The meaning of life is being in a bathtub, no matter what the circumstances are. It’s joining a group of volunteers to roll a beached whale back into the ocean, only to find that even all together you’re still not strong enough to move the 200-ton animal. It’s then reading the whale its last rights as everyone starts to give up and go home, your voice carrying out into the salty night.
We’re here in this big, crazy world to try and fold a piece of paper into more than seven pieces, but then fall asleep and dream we’ve bumped into Selena Gomez at the supermarket (but were too intimidated to introduce ourselves). The meaning of life is, quite literally, a river rapids ride where you forgot to put your iPhone in a plastic bag beforehand, but it’s only an iPhone 5S and is pretty outdated by now, and so maybe this is a great theoretical opportunity to get a new iPhone. In other words: being at peace with nature and making s’mores with a random group of hunters in the woods.
Yes, the meaning of life can fit inside a canoe. Of course it can.
I didn’t figure this all out overnight. It’s been a few long years of existential dread. But I know when I look into my wife’s eyes and see the purest love I’ve ever known, and the reflection of the fire we started burning ablaze behind me, that this is what life is all about. Can you assign that joy a meaning? Can you add up my dad clapping me on the back at my high school graduation with the sensation of laying on a bed of nails at an interactive science museum, with the faded smell of old Taco Bell in my Hyundai? What would you even get from that equation? Peeps exploding in the microwave?
This is what I’m trying to tell you, and I don't know how to spell it out any further: Without the legacy of Nixon's dog Checkers, or company sleepovers at Dave n' Busters, we’d all be completely lost on this mortal coil. We’d be wandering around IKEAs, crying in the cars outside our houses, watching terrible animated movie sequels, and forced to make small talk with strangers at community Jacuzzis. And then we’d die. That would be all life has to offer. But instead, there is a meaning to all the chaos of this universe. We all feel it when we lick a plastic spoon and try to get it to stick to our nose at some point in our lives. And if you ask me, that’s essentially what makes us human in the first place.
I hope this helps. I hope I've set you free. But above all else, if you only comprehend one thing from this discussion about the meaning of life today, I want you to know life is about bolting down your thirty-gallon saltwater fish tank firmly to the ground in case of earthquakes. Okay? So get up, put down that Entertainment Weekly, and perform citizen’s arrests as often as possible. Register as an organ donor, learn a few simple magic tricks, and teach a dog to skateboard.
And that, my friend, is what it’s all about.