The job and the career coming to an end is no different from life itself in which, well, life ends. When the destination is fixed and non-negotiable, it is clear that life is all about the journey. Will the journey be on the high road or in the gutter, whether it is sweet or sad, the cosmos has no concerns. The cosmos is. There is no grand story--it is up to us to individually make the choices and make meaning of it all.
I keep reading about the Nobelist Steven Weinberg, who died recently, and about his profound statement that “The more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it also seems pointless.” In this pointlessness, a rich life is about us creating our own meaningful narratives. Weinberg said:
I believe that there is no point in the universe that can be discovered by the methods of science. I believe that what we have found so far, an impersonal universe in which it is not particularly directed toward human beings is what we are going to continue to find. And that when we find the ultimate laws of nature they will have a chilling, cold impersonal quality about them.
I don't think this means [however] there's no point to life. Usually the remark is quoted just as it stands. But if anyone read the next paragraph, they would see that I went on to say that if there is no point in the universe that we discover by the methods of science, there is a point that we can give the universe by the way we live, by loving each other, by discovering things about nature, by creating works of art. And that -- in a way, although we are not the stars in a cosmic drama, if the only drama we're starring in is one that we are making up as we go along, it is not entirely ignoble that faced with this unloving, impersonal universe we make a little island of warmth and love and science and art for ourselves. That's not an entirely despicable role for us to play.I love how he makes it clear that it does not mean that our lives are pointless. Not at all. We are not being cynical or nihilistic. On the contrary, we love being here and we put in all the effort that we can in making meaning out of this chance existence. The cosmic drama is not about us though. We humans are not even bit players!
“I think a world governed by a creator who is concerned with human beings is in many ways much more attractive than the impersonal world governed by laws of nature that have to be stated mathematically; laws that have nothing in them that indicates any special connection with human life. ... We’re going to die, and our loved ones are going to die, and it would be very nice to believe that that was not the end and that we would live beyond the grave and meet those we love again,”