I was sat in the kitchen of a shared house almost exactly a year from when I met my wife when, finally, I realised that life has no meaning and what a wonderful thing that is. I spent all of my life up to that point asking ‘why’ – most often of myself. Yet it was only after I met Jen that she asked ‘why’ of me in a way that didn’t encourage but forced me to think for myself. But as a precursor to this, back in that kitchen, newly single and suddenly able to think about what I actually wanted, it hit me that since there was no meaning to my life, no particular meaning to life at all, then I could choose what to do with it. The only person I would ever answer to would be myself. Asking ‘why’ for so long suggested there were some answers beyond the circumstantial or innate, that there was some level of NORMAL that things deviated from and when they did you could explore and explain why that had happened. And if life had a meaning, then there might just be some sort of thing as normal because there would be an ur-purpose to each of our lives. We would all have some shared meaning which would in turn define exactly what living out that life might look like, whether that was having kids, finding love, creating money, being a patriotic citizen, paying your taxes, getting a job or any of the mundane conventional demands that we make of ourselves and each other in a plateaued human existence. If there really was a MEANING to life then people could be accused of not fulfilling that thing. It would be easy to recognise when people deviated from the plan, the original intention that human life had. And I think to some degree I’d swallowed this concept – that life has intrinsic meaning – which meant I led a life dedicated to searching for it and understanding it in order to have a better life. I have no doubt that this is why so many of us are miserable. Imagine being the child in a room full of toys convinced that if you can just find the right toy, the CORRECT toy, nothing else will matter any more because all the bad feeling will have gone away. Sat in that kitchen I was submerged into an understanding that normal was just this thing that the largest bunch of people didn’t talk about but collectively assumed as the done thing. The depths of this realisation opened up to welcome me with the suggestion that, if normal didn’t mean anything and consensus was an accident and nothing natural had any obligation to give a shit about either, then there was no framework within which my life had to operate and no pressure on any decision I might make about how to live it. Which is when the subterranean possibility of my own unalterable, undeniable self agency, the sense that here, beneath the lollipop thin surface of GENERAL WORLD in the ichthyian deep where everything was murky and indistinct and nobody liked to talk while looking in case they drowned in the thick water, was met by the sensation of my own unique power to define my own life and swept this ocean of new thought away to uncover… nothing. Featureless non life. The clocking-on that my own life had no meaning beyond that which I chose to make. That being alive was meaningless and that the hole I’d always experienced was pointless so why feel it? But unlike any other ‘why’ before it the very absence of an answer was answer enough. In The Abyss there’s a scene where Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio‘s character wears a super-deepsea diving suit that fills with fluorocarbon liquid. She has to accept this drowning and give into it so as to reach unheard-of depths of the ocean. It’s called liquid breathing. Understanding that life has no meaning required me to make the same acceptance, to allow this seemingly unnatural thing to overwhelm me and breathe it all the way in. To drown in it but keep going all the same. Which is exactly what I did, wide eyed in a shit kitchen surrounded by peers going about their usual lives, gawping at light in motion, while the ocean crashed back over me and I welcomed the drowning, the liquid breathing.