One of my current personal goals is to listen to all of P. G. Wodehouse’s Jeeves And Wooster stories in publication order. This involves a fairly hefty time commitment since Wodehouse was something of a prolific writer across the span of his long life. Many times over the past few weeks, as I’ve striven towards completing this arduous challenge, I keep hearing a small voice inside asking whether I am not being just a tiny bit decadent. After all, there are folks out there struggling through insurmountable trials and tribulations that life has thrown in their way, and here I am wasting my time listening to classic stories, written and read by guys whose only raison d’être was to make me laugh. Maybe, the voice suggests, I should be doing something more useful with my time, like trying to single-handedly solve world hunger, or at least get the council to repair the atrocious stretch of pavement outside my house.
That’s the problem with being the philosophical type. No matter where you start, no matter how innocent a thought seems, you always end up contemplating the meaning of life. For what reason was I put on this earth? What constitutes a good life? Even if I work out what’s involved in a good life, how can I possibly manage to live one?
Since the whole thing is enough to drive you to drink, and all I want to do is listen to my stories with a clear conscience, I thought I’d have a quick pass at a philosophy, see if it’s as difficult as all those dead thinkers made out.
I suppose, whether you believe in some deity watching down on us or not, we can all agree that every moment we’ve been given is precious. After all, we don’t get many of them in the scheme of things, and we only get to live them once. It follows that we should therefore choose to live every moment with purpose.
Hmmm! I spent a good few minutes before writing that sentence nibbling the edge off my thumbnail. Was that moment lived with purpose? Was it a useful activity that brought meaning to my life? Absolutely not. For one thing I got a bit carried away and the edge of the nail hurts like hell now. So it looks like it’s back to the drawing board. How Descartes, Kant, and folks like that managed to write whole books on this stuff beats me.
As far as I can see, the best thing for me to do is get back to my Jeeves stories and not worry about it. First, though, I think I’ll nip and find a bit of antiseptic cream and a plaster for my thumb. As for solving world hunger, I’ll come back to that tomorrow. Once that’s sorted I’ll move on to the even more challenging task of getting my local council to fix the pavement.