Philosophical Mindweather

Does one find the purpose in life? Or, does one create purpose? Is the very idea of an intrinsic purpose in life simply wishful thinking? There must be thousands of philosophies relating to life’s purpose, most of which are based on the supposition that there is, indeed, a purpose. Many argue life’s purpose is not to find happiness but, instead, to identify one’s usefulness in the lives of others. But what does science say? Can science provide defensible answers? The answers may differ dramatically, depending on the question: what is the purpose of life; what is the meaning of life? It is quite possible that life has an intrinsic purpose. Unlike the more romantic answers to the question of meaning, though, the answer to life’s purpose may be strictly utilitarian. The purpose might be, simply, to provide nourishment within an enormously broad circle of life. Meaning, on the other hand, may be an artificial attribute humans ascribe to mysteries we cannot otherwise understand.  Similar questions may be asked of death, of course. Does death have a purpose? The answer, depending on the respondent, varies. Does death have meaning? The same is true, but the slant is different. Death is said, especially by people who accept spirituality or religion as more than simple notions, to give life meaning. But is there a corollary philosophy—that life gives death meaning? Does it matter?


Only a couple of years ago, my resting heart rate was regularly between 64 and 72 beats per minute (bpm). More recently—around a year ago—it averaged between 78 and 85 bpm. Since the beginning of this year, it consistently has been 90+ bpm, with the occasional jump to the upper 90s or beyond. This morning, I was surprised to see 110 bpm. My exploration of the “meaning” of increasing heart rates yielded conflicting information; for my age and sex, it is not unusual to see it increase. Some resources suggest anything about 80+ bpm is an indication of an unhealthy heart; others say “it depends.” But when it gets high, the consensus is that formal medical assessment (not Google) is in order. And, one of the explanations for an increasing heart rate relates to pulmonary issues, with which I am dealing in spades. Fortunately, I am scheduled to see my cardiologist’s APRN a week from tomorrow. If there is anything of consequence to learn, I suspect I’ll learn it from her.


I thought the completion of my “chemotherapy drugs only” regimen would end the fatigue. And it may, yet. But not yet. I sleep, still, for hours and hours and hours. I do not appreciate it. But, then, again, I do.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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2 Responses to Philosophical Mindweather

  1. Trisha says:

    John, as for the fatigue after chemo (Taxol and then A/C the red devil & cyclophosphamide) ended, it was gradual and took various months to shake it off completely, however, I then had my surgery, a lumpectomy, a short break for recovery, and then continued on to radiation treatment, (20 sessions, 5 days a week) which also has the side effect of fatigue. Being from what you’ve written, radiation isn’t on the table as part of your treatment … hopefully your fatigue will be much shorter live. Good luck. ☘️

  2. Meg Koziar says:

    Just glad to see you writing.

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