The Man with A Can (And the Meaning of Life)

Jan 14, 2015 1483

man with a canI learnt a lesson about the meaning of life some years ago… from a man with a can. In fact, it was from a young man with an aerosol can.

I was doing some casual teaching in a state high school when I met a young man who had his arm in a sling, really badly cropped hair, and terrible scars on his face.

I asked him what had happened. He told me that he had set his hair alight with a cigarette lighter and an aerosol can.

I didn’t believe him – how could someone would do that to themselves – but he quickly took out his cell phone and showed me some photos he had taken of himself in the act of doing it – before, during, and after.

And the arm… that was from punching trees. “Well,” he said, “it’s less complicated than punching people!”

And so I asked him why.

He said, “Because life has no meaning. All you can do is get out there and experience as much as you can. And the more extreme the better. Oh… the other thing I do is jump out of first storey windows for fun; do you want to see me do it?”

I assured him that I didn’t – at least not on my watch as a teacher.

But I gave him top marks to him for philosophy.

You see, the question, “What is the meaning of life?” is asked by many and answered by few. Why? Because the question itself is meaningless – it can have no answer – unless you are prepared to include God in your thinking.

– Eliezer

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