“Life has no meaning a priori… It is up to you to give it a meaning, and value is nothing but the meaning that you choose.”
– Jean-Paul Sartre
Jean-Paul Sartre claimed that life had no meaning; instead, it was up to us to imbue our lives with the meaning that we choose. His contemporary and friend-turned-foe, the reluctant Existentialist Albert Camus, pushed a similar line, denying that there is an answer to the question, “What is the meaning of life?”. Camus contended that life is absurd; that the fate of humans is much like that of King Sisyphus, who was condemned by Zeus to endlessly push a rock up a hill, only to watch it roll back down again.
Our rock is ‘the meaning of life’, which we push uphill in search of an answer, only to see it roll back down again. Just like Sisyphus, we start over, despite the fact the rock will return to the bottom of the hill once more. However Camus, like Sartre, left room for us to create meaning, despite the absurdity of life. “One must imagine Sisyphus happy,” he wrote.
Perhaps we too can imagine ourselves happy, if only we can shift our search from looking for the meaning of life to focusing on purpose: on finding meaning in life.