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Volume 68, Issue 69, Wednesday, December 4, 2002


Enjoy every moment of break

Matthew Caster
Opinion Columnist

This is just a great time of year, isnit it? I mean, forget about finals and projects for a moment and just look around: the temperature has fallen out of the upper 90s, as our three-week-long winter season draws near. Our school has actually won a football game against a team with a better record. Every major religion has a "holiday" season of some sort coming up in the next few weeks (if not already). 

Itis just a great time to be alive or is it? It seems al-Qaida has taken to launching guided surface-to-air missiles at passenger planes. Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.), who votes with arch-liberal Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) 94 percent of the time as reported by Fox News, is forming an exploratory committee to investigate a possible 2004 presidential bid. And I canit seem to forget about my finals and my projects.

All this led me to question, on the eve of yet another new year, the real purpose of life. Maslovis Hierarchy of Needs taught that the purpose of life was reaching oneis full potential. Al Bundy, on the other hand, taught that true happiness and fulfillment comes in the form of watching TV with your hand stuffed down your pants. I can see merit in both arguments.

But what exactly is it that weire all supposed to do during our short stay on this planet? Itis a question thatis been pondered for generations by philosophers, scholars and Daily Cougar columnists. Is there some specific meaning to this existence that applies to all of us? With as much vigor as I research all my columns (sometimes 20 minutes or more), I set out on a journey over Thanksgiving break to determine what the meaning of life really is.

This journey took me to St. Louis. Thereis actually not much in St. Louis except a really pretty arch, a mall thatis kind of cool and a major intercollegiate bowling tournament every Thanksgiving break (hence my journey). I saw many marvelous things at this tournament: a couple great scores, a couple tragic collapses (including my own), and the oft-quoted thrill of victory and agony of defeat.

But somehow in this melee of 16-pound balls slamming into pins at inconceivable velocities a connection was forged between me and the very fabric of space-time, a connection which allowed me to see with my own eyes what the true meaning of life is not just for me but for all humanity.

The meaning of life, quite simply, is doing what you enjoy doing.

"Duh," you say. "Anyone could have thought of that."

But Iim serious. Life is about doing something you enjoy, whether itis perfectly healthy and respectable or totally destructive. I like to bowl, which is good. I like to slack, which may not be so good when it comes time to get a job. I like to plop myself in front of the boob tube during a football game and drink cold beer, which is as close to heaven as Iill get on this planet (or maybe at all, according to my ex-girlfriendis parents).

On the other hand, Iive got a friend who says he wants to die of a drug overdose. Heis done drugs since he was 9, been kicked out of rehab 12 times and doesnit allow himself to be seen in public if heis not totally smashed. Living wasted, and dying wasted, is what makes him happy. Is it good for him? No. But heis comfortable with his choice, and heis determined to live hard and die hard.

Now, Iim certainly not telling you all to get totally boozed up and go cruising around if thatis the sort of thing you enjoy. I hope everyone can find something constructive and enjoyable to do with life. 

But remember, as you go home to be with friends and family during the approaching winter break, what you leave behind in this life is not as important as how youive lived. In a way, Maslov and Bundy were both right. Always try to reach your full potential, but donit neglect the simple, exquisite pleasures in life.

Caster, a senior petroleum engineering major, 
can be reached at


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