Who has seen the videos and photos of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, made even worse now by possible nuclear meltdown, and not thought: what does anything mean when faced with such devastation?
Even if we are presumed safe, doubts bubble up, rattling the foundations on which our daily lives rest. It's not only physical certainties which suddenly seem unreal: watching cars, trains, ships, planes, streets, buildings, towns and all sophisticated technology - not to mention people - being swallowed up, crunched and spat out in bits by the inexorable advance of a monster wave - but also the To Do lists on my desk, the projects, the things I've done or am doing seem completely irrelevant, insubstantial, confronted by such irrefutable proof of the fragility of all human activity. You could say that simply facing one's own mortality gives rise to the same existential angst. But it's not quite the same, is it? As long as something remains after you've gone, there's continuity. But what if it all goes, on the kind of scale they're witnessing in Japan right now and perhaps, in future, even worse? Don't you wonder: what is the point?
The answer given by many creative people would be: the point is the point. You do what you do because that's who you are and you would go on doing it even if there is no point - the meaning is in the doing.
Well...h'm...okay...sort of. Intellectually I kind of go along with that but it doesn't satisfy my soul, if you know what I mean. Or even if you don't know what I mean. It doesn't satisfy my guts either, those pesky guts which always demand other answers, something beyond intellect, beyond words. Gutsy answers.
Photo from BBC news