One of my favorite books, I’m a little hesitant to say, is “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”. The humor, intellect, and wit throughout Douglas Adams’ books are so similar to the way my mind works that I deeply enjoyed these books which reflect my own thoughts far too often. Thoughts like, “If the universe was truly infinite, then everything in the world should grow naturally somewhere.” Adams makes this a reality with the constant reference to the inhabitants of Squornshellous Minor who exactly replicate our human mattresses. In these books, we have not just created robots as artificial life forms, but have given them human personalities. And one of these is Marvin, whose personality chip malfunctioned making him a clinically depressed robot.
Reading today, I felt like Ecclesiastes was written by Marvin, the Paranoid Android. With its running theme of Meaninglessness, this book of Solomon is certainly depressing at first reading. Solomon goes through all he has done to try to find meaning in life, and hasn’t found any meaningful. Literally translated as “like vapor or fog”, Solomon says all of the things we fight so hard for and run after are fleeting, evaporating like breath on a cold winter day.
His first target is learning. “Meaningless!” he cries, for there is always more to learn and even the learning disappears after a while and for good once you die. Pleasure is next and as you might guess, “Meaningless!” Ambition, beauty, wealth, power, even work itself is all a chasing after steam, never to be caught. Nothing is meaningful, so you might as well find pleasure in your toil, Solomon says. Like a depressed robot.
But looking closer, maybe there is some wise guidance in this after all. Rather than moping around that this world’s achievements don’t mean anything, maybe Solomon has found the path to true happiness: unattachment. To be free from the cries and pull of this world is to be free to pursue God as an end in Himself rather than as a means to accomplishing our own goals – heaven, righteous reputation, fulfillment.
Let go of the things this world offers, that your body desires, and that we have been taught are important. Live knowing that everything will disappear besides your relationship with God, and you might just find the happiness these things were supposed to provide.