The Color of Love
(Why I probably won’t kill myself)
“In life, just as on the artist’s palette, there is but a single color that gives meaning to life and art – the color of love.”
– Marc Chagall
I just walked through the exhibit, “Chagall: Love, Ware, and Exile,” at the Jewish museum in the upper east side of New York City. Words cannot express the feelings evoked and the thoughts inspired in gazing at the beautifully textured canvases adorning the walls of the exhibit. The palette of my soul was imbued with new hues, new colors and perspectives on reality.
We are all on a search for meaning. We all want to know the answer to the question, “What is the meaning of life?” As one poet friend of mine wrote,
“They want to believe they were meant
Intended to fulfill some destiny.”
There is a lot out there in the world, and it is far from easy to make sense of it all. I have been honest in my struggle to find meaning amidst it all. I don’t know if there is any universal meaning in life. I don’t know if there is any universal meaning in death. I tend to think that we as humans create meaning. I don’t mean that we make up purposes for ourselves, but that our perspective and outlook on life creates the meaning we overlay on the events of our life.
Surrounded by death, enveloped in darkness, and constantly reminded that all is not right in this world, we are left to make sense of it all. Making sense of the seemingly random mosaic of the events in this life is far from a simple task. Some people choose to believe in karma: you get from life what you put in. But I find that a less than satisfactory framework to life. What about the innocents who die young? It doesn’t make sense with the karma. What about the evil men and women who live long and comfortable lives?
Things are a lot more random than belief in karma allows. Unless you believe perhaps that you are paying penance for sins of a former life through reincarnation. Which makes a bit of sense if you believe you get a second go at life. Which I don’t. If I can’t remember the me of a previous life, it is not me. As I learned from Star Trek, the memories make the man. And I should not be responsible for a previous iteration or incarnation’s mistakes if I cannot remember them. That hardly seems fair. And if things get difficult or hard, why not leave this world and let next iteration of me try again? If I won’t be able to remember this life, why not jump to the next one?
The third option is to say that life is meaningless. The events in life are random. There are no God/gods/supernatural forces controlling floods, hurricanes, and school shootings. That is just life. We are animals. Why must we find meaning? Why not just live, breath, eat, and enjoy the life we have? This is what I’m inclined to believe. But the problem with this outlook is that there is no reason not to opt out. There is no answer to the question, why not give up, stop breathing, and end the struggle? If there is no more to life than randomness and meaninglessness, why bother continue on when things get difficult? When we encounter obstacles, struggles, and difficulties, there is no reason not to throw in the towel.
The option I have chosen to pursue is the option that Marc Chagall proclaims, “In life, just as on the artist’s palette, there is but a single color that gives meaning to life and art – the color of love.”
The reason to hang on to life, the reason to stick it through is that there is potential in this world for love. Every day is a slate of possibility, possibility to heal, possibility to encourage, and possibility to make a tiny difference in this world.
I live for that possibility, that possibility to love and to be loved.
Love bears meaning. Love creates meaning. Love, perhaps, is the meaning.
(Or perhaps the meaning is a white cow playing a violin.)