Finding (too much) Meaning in Things

Recently I went on a trip to Upstate New York with my best friend. On this trip we stopped by Dia:Beacon, a contemporary art museum. There are few notable artist’s work here, including Dan Flavin. On each piece, there is a brief description of the work, and also a blurb about the artist. On Dan Flavin’s card, it stated that he does not attach any particular meaning to his work. What we see at face value is what he meant it to be: minimalistic, aesthetic, neon lights. Upon reading this, I told my friend that I do not think anything in this world can inherently be meaningless. She disagreed, and thus began the start of a debate on meaninglessness.

Meaning is such an interesting concept. Meaning is something that can matter so much to humanity–even to the point that people sometimes fool themselves into thinking that meaning doesn’t matter. People search the depths of their souls for a lifetime so that they can find meaning or purpose in their life. We are so peculiar in that we hold so much value to meaning. There are so many books centered around the idea of the purpose of life.

Yet there is another side of this coin, where some people really don’t seem to care and attach meaning to anything. They live their entire life in a mundane bubble of what is at hand. This sort of reminds me of Dan Flavin’s work. It is simply there to exist and to be pretty. But then come around the people who attach meaning to everything and try to find a depth in all things. These people label Dan Flavin’s work and then it creates meaning in his art. Maybe sometimes we attach too much meaning to things instead of enjoying what they are originally, simply designed to be. It’s a fine line, just like anything in life. I am a firm believer in balance. It’s not simply black and white, but there is always a gray line. The width of the gray line that separates the black and white side may vary, but nonetheless it exists. If we fall to one extreme side, it becomes harder to see that there are other perspectives that still exist. So, to conclude the idea of meaning or lack of meaning in things, I think there is a balance. There will be people and times that there isn’t any deeper meaning in “something.” But as time passes, as other people are introduced to this “something,” they can attach their own meaning to this “something.” So who are we to point fingers and act with an unnecessary fastidious demeanor.