Is human life just a dream, from which we never really awake, as some great thinkers claim? Are we submerged by our feelings, by our loves and hates, by our ideas of good, bad, beautiful, and awful? Are we incapable of knowing beyond those ideas and feelings? Is the reality we know a reality imposed to us by nature? Are the reality and the meaning of life a creation of men, such as music, or love or colors?
When I consider the short duration of my life, swallowed up in the eternity that lies before and after it, when I consider the little space I fill and I see, engulfed in the infinite immensity of spaces of which I am unaware, I rest frightened, and astonished, for there is no reason why I should be here rather than there. Who has put me here? By whose order and direction have this place and time have been ascribed to me? Love gives meaning to our lives – as do friendship, or art or faith in God.
These are factors of true happiness, of inner peace, of feelings of harmony, allowing meaning to our existence. But there is the other side. There is the cruelty of life, the pain, the evil, not to talk of death. When the Tsimtsum sank, not only was Pi shoved face to face with the unknown, but he also lost his family, the core of his human context. Instead, he had to try to survive. Life of Pi is a story about struggling to survive through seemingly insurmountable odds. Throughout the novel, characters are seeking the meaning of life.
Pi abandons his lifelong vegetarianism and eats fish to sustain himself. Orange Juice, the peaceful orangutan, fights ferociously against the hyena. Even the severely wounded zebra battles to stay alive; his slow, painful struggle vividly illustrates the sheer strength of his life force. As Martel makes clear in his novel, living creatures will often do extraordinary, unexpected, and sometimes heroic things to survive. However, they will also do shameful and barbaric things if pressed. Exactly like humans.
It is between these pendulums – the positive, the one that gives happiness and meaning, and the negative – that our lives are lived. And when we meditate about all that, we arrive at a diverse and disagreeing set of thoughts about the meaning and purpose of life. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your time and attention. I hope I have clarified the thoughts of some, to be aware of the vast world we live in and the astounding beings we truly are. Speak to others of your thoughts and knowledge; I am sure they will be willing to listen.