The meaning of life

There comes a time late at night when stillness descends upon the earth. Some call it the bewitching hour. I call it “nighttime dog walking.”

As my neighbors settle in for the night, the psychic thought activity halts. The worries of the day are replaced by the numbing drone of the TV and the lion-like snoring of my fellow men and women.

It is at this time that the neighborhood dog lovers take their fur babies out for the much deserved constitutional. And I follow suit.

Nocturnal dog owners comprise a separate sub-specie of humans with its own rhythm, ebb and flow.

I am one of them and I know every one of my comrades by name. Wait, scratch that. I know every one of my four legged comrades by name. The owners… I just know by sight.

There’s Lucy, Roger, Luna, Chewy, Charlie, Daisy, Maggie, Starbuck. And there’s the tall guy, the husband and wife, the Romanian couple, the Pomeranian rescuer, the boy on a bike, the guy who makes his dog wear socks. And there’s me. The unapologetic girl on hoverboard with the grumpy poodle.

I love to chat with my neighbors. I have perfected my weather conversation to be just enough entertaining without being too lengthy. Cloudless full moon night forms the best conversation topic. “Have you seen the moon tonight?” I ask each neighbor. We both look up and nod our heads knowingly and appreciatively.

Talking about nothing is an art form, I find. I used to despise small talk. In my young days I thought it was a time waster and resource drainer. As I grew older, I learned to accept it, and to even love it. Because sometimes the conversation topic does not matter. Sometimes it is all about connecting in time and space with another human being. And words, they are just space fillers, something to pass the time as two humans and two dogs bond for a brief moment and then go their separate ways.

If a flap of butterfly’s wings can change the path of a hurricane half a world away then would it not also mean that a simple “hello what a beautiful night” can change the course of a human life? Perhaps not dramatically enough to make a permanent difference. But perhaps… After all, why are we all here on earth if not to connect with our fellow humans? An existential question at its core, isn’t it?

Perhaps life is simpler that we make it out to be. Perhaps the whole point of our existence is a simple “hello, I love your dog”? Or perhaps it’s 42*? It took Deep Thought 7½ million years to compute and check the answer and then to point out that the answer is meaningless because the beings who instructed the computer never actually knew what the Question was.

Last month I became 42. Happy birthday to me.


*”The meaning of life is 42” refers to a line in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.  When Douglas Adams wrote The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, he added a central joke which has become more famous over the years than the novel itself: “The answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything is 42.”


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