Motivational speakers, entrepreneur conferences and your parents all want you to do something significant. That’s the key word. Do something significant with your life, make your business significant, I’m going to beat you if you don’t make something significant out of yourself.
It’s such a charged word. It implies that significance is a goal we have to work toward, and most people never achieve. You’re only significant if you achieve all your dreams, own the $350,000 car and your company is traded on the stock market. You only matter if you get the trophy spouse, the house on the hill with the fountain that sprays dollar bills. It’s not even about money, not entirely, everybody has a different end goal. For instance, I’m going to be the humblest person to ever live.
Significance, wanting to matter, is a rat race with no end. Everything becomes a competition. It turns innocuous moments devious and makes selfish deeds self-absorbed. Yes, homeless man, I’ll give you a fiver, but let me snap this selfie doing it. #GoodPerson.
It’s all a sham. In the end, none of it matters. The universe is going to undergo glorious destruction via heat death at some point and every massive achievement will be rendered insignificant. Every monumental moment in human history will be forgotten. It will be like we never existed at all.
We got a little existential in here. Depressed yet?
There’s good news. There will be nothing left to remember that time you farted in class, right next to that crush of yours. No one to know your failures, your worst dreams or the bad times.
That time I ripped my pants in fifth grade? I might be telling you about it now, but it will be gone.
This is getting more nihilistic all the time. If it sounds like I’m making the argument that nothing matters, well, a couple points:
1: Did you read the title of the column?
2: Read No. 1.
If ultimately, everything is insignificant in the end, that’s actually fantastic news. We’re free. There is no penalty for not playing the game, not running the race, having that second slice of cake.
You probably still shouldn’t smoke meth though, just gonna put that out there for those of you who were going to use me as an excuse.
Even better, we get to decide what’s significant to us as individuals, and we get to do it every day. We can change our minds, we can try new things, we can, you know … live a little.
If you think this way, every second takes on a new importance. After all, this is the only life we get. The best way to spend it, probably, is doing things that make you happy.
All of a sudden, life doesn’t build toward significant moments. It’s full of them. You take enough of those moments, those seconds in time, and mash them together, and you’ve got a life. It might not matter in the end. It certainly won’t be significant once this blue marble stops spinning, but if you did it right, it mattered to you. It was significant to those around you, and maybe you even had a good time.
If you can’t play the game again, it stops being about going for the high score and becomes something you just enjoy doing, and that’s this week’s small victory.
(JESSE JONES is the editor of The Eagle Post, a member of the Kentucky New Era Media Group. Email email@example.com for more and no, you don’t really need that second slice of cake.)