In the George Clooney movie Up in the Air, a groom having pre-wedding jitters asks Clooney’s character, “What’s the point?” He wants to know more than what’s the point of getting married. He’s really asking what’s the point of life. Why do we get up every day and keep struggling against what often seems to be overwhelming sadness and futility. Clooney provides an insightful but, I believe, ultimately hollow answer along the lines of cherishing the best feel-good moments of our lives, which often involve those we love most. I won’t give away any more in case you haven’t seen the film.
That question is important. What’s the point? Christianity answers the biggest question for me. I won’t go into the details (at least not yet) of why I believe this or why other belief systems don’t provide adquate answers. For a much better explanation of my own beliefs, please see William Lane Craig’s Reasonable Faith.
Leaving aside the Big Question for now, the question also trickles down to any major endeavor in our lives from choosing a career, buying a home, traveling the world, beginning a diet and exercise regime or starting on a journey toward simplicity. It seems like lots of people these days have goals just for the sake of having goals. I was one of them until recently.
I was on the same path as seemingly everyone else: college, career, marriage, home, cars, hobbies, entertainment and forty or fifty years of pointless work to pay for it all. That is such an empty life, and I can’t believe so many of us do it willingly. It’s an accelerating treadmill until we finally get to retire and then die a few months later because we’ve ignored our health and lost hope during our pursuit of the American Dream.
We should ask ourselves what is the point of the default lives most of us choose. Thanks to many wonderful influences, I finally swallowed the red pill and asked myself what was the point of all the major life choices I had made. I couldn’t come up with a very good answer for much of it. “It’s just what people do.” That’s about the best I could come up with. So, a major reason for my first tentative steps toward simplicity was to clear away distractions so I could see a truer path.
I know some things I want: more time for family, more time to devote to making some sort of difference in the world, more time to devote to God, more time and energy to devote to figuring out my individual place in the story, time to figure out how to use my talents to help others, time to spend outdoors, time to travel. I’ve identified some barriers keeping me from these things: my job, debts, spending habits, too high a cost of living, too busy schedule outside work, poor exercise habits leading to low energy, etc. So now the idea is to steadily take down those barriers. I still may not have an entirely clear answer to “what’s the point?”, but maybe the answer is to keep asking it, to be a seeker.
Why are you seeking simplicity? Make sure you know why you’re doing it. Make sure it’s not just one more empty goal that you’re pursuing without a good reason. Never stop asking questions. Never stop seeking.