When the idea for this specific website (last of a series) came to me, I wanted it to convey a completion of sorts for me, and a summary of my lifelong quest for understanding the mysteries of the universe, and to impart that to the Readers, who would then flock to this site to sit at the seat of the Master - for free, or perhaps with a small entrance fee for expenses - who at last has "found out." I find the stage crowded, to my dismay, but even more importantly, I am definitely not a Master, and what I have "found out" is available in many other places.
As someone once infamously said: "Be careful what you seek; you might find it."
I have found that I have both failed miserably and succeeded beyond all hope, yet with that failure and success, has come the final understanding that - as all the wise sages have said for all time - it has been and will continue to be within me, and not "out there." And yet "out there" is likely the only place to start, as it was for me.
So what does that aforementioned meaningless poppycock and drivel "mean" should I succeed in explaining what I have found? That is the subject of some mental and physical meanderings and spiritual gymnastics within what remains of my partially demented brain, delivered - or attempted to, at least - with levity and humor. And I will further assert it is worth exactly what you are paying for it: Your Time.
For those brave souls still reading this, let us proceed together, hand-in-hand, brains and hearts open, spirits engaged, judgments suspended, and our humor available for sudden unexpected emergencies.
Why and/or Why Not?
Let's dispense with Philosophy 101 (you have already passed the course by opening this website) and get to the Final Exam, otherwise known as "The Meaning Of It All," followed by death and then whatever your cosmology permits.
You figure it out; end of lesson. That's it! you may leave now if you wish.
And of course, we all have slightly differing answers, depending on many factors over which we have had no control. That is to say, is it all simply intellectual sophistry and snobbish banter? Perhaps. And further, do you have a better use for your time?
I do not know, is the most appropriate answer for almost any question, as it leads to further questions, some more answers, and over and over endlessly until the End. That's certainly one answer, and likely the most important answer one can obtain, as it invariably leads to additional questions, which might be even more important or useful. I maintain that all subsequent ideas flow from that initial realization. (These are all my assertions, and have not been validated by The Ultimate Source, and are posited simply for probing and prodding reasons.) This is sort of how my brain works on a good day, and how it functions on a bad day is best handled by my next website "From The Depths Of Hell."
And so the philosophical question of "what good is the past?" can have a few answers:
a. It tells us who we were, where we came from, and who the people were who screwed up our lives - or in possibly stunningly few cases - who were responsible for our stellar successes.
b. It provides a litmus test for screening any other people who have pasts (all of those "others") so that we can compare our pasts to rate ourselves on a scale of (you fill in the blanks).
c. It explains the "why" of who we are, since "everybody knows" our present and future is rooted in our past.
d. It provides something do while waiting for the bus or taxi or perfect mate or answer or a better job or different result or even The End.
So once we know the "why" of who we are, we can finally relax and tentatively go forward.
Then the startling question becomes: Forward to what? At this point, most people look around at their surroundings, other people, stories, parents, fairy tales, teachers, spiritual leaders, or other authoritative sources, many of whom wear uniforms or special clothing or act in certain ways or say differing things so we know that they know, and we need to heed or listen to them.
Then we are ready! Tally ho! Off we go and do a lot of stuff, do some other things, think some semi-original approved thoughts, do some more acceptable things, argue with each other, get rewarded or criticized, and figure out a way to do it again, but this time "more, better, and different."
Now, as is apparent, I have stolen the above general phrases and words from many others, who purport to explain the meaning of it all, and they mostly have it right, in that results mostly come about from clearly thought-out actions intended to produce a significant and useful result. Or perhaps, in a surprising number of instances, quite by accident. You get to choose, as always. This happens with perhaps as much as 30% to 70% of the population (on a good day), and repeats itself almost endlessly (so far).
Bleak? Meaningless? Dark? I say no, since we are the judges of our lives and our successes (for the most part), other than those beacons of "right-thinking" who help us decide what is good/bad, successful/failed, or useful/worthless, and can validate our progress "forward." Note I do not say that "they" are not useful; all input is usually valuable, as long as it does not kill us.
Into my fertile brain has come an old phrase from a poem or other writing that says something like "into the valley of death rode the six-hundred; cannon to the right, cannon to the left" . . . . (and I recall no more). It was a stirring poem meant to illustrate bravery and ferocity of purpose in light of certain death, no matter how senseless or misunderstood or feared. And there also was a 1950's television show with Groucho Marx called "This Is Your Life." How those two phrases have stuck with me for over sixty years to be resurrected upon my writing about end of life (EOL, as the physicians say somewhat anesthetically) explains a lot about what goes on in my head for entertainment, and I do not say this as a recommendation.
The only useful answer that comes to me is simply "I do not know." And from that comes the opportunity to continue forward.