In addition to the Leary quote, there was a common phrase that also rose out of the 60’s, and that was to “find yourself.” It’s really the most elemental and perhaps the most important existentially-oriented question in the world. Who am I? Not only that but also why am I here in this life? What is my purpose or destiny? The experiments which Leary advocated became the cultural norm for young Americans and even Europeans as we tried all things chemical, sexual, spiritual, etc., which were on the fringe of acceptability, in search of the answers to those basic life questions. Unfortunately, all these wild pursuits never produced any satisfying answers. There’s an iconic scene in the movie Forest Gump which captures the insanity and emptiness of this American pursuit of meaning through experimentation. In this particular scene, the female friend, Jenny, of the main character, Forest, stands on a balcony wall of a room high up on a tall building. She is apparently contemplating suicide, the final leap from this life.
She has experimented with everything possible, and at the end of it all, she finds nothing, no answers, no meaning, only emptiness and loneliness. She did not find what she was after. So she stands there for several tense minutes, as we hear the fast, furious, and high energy guitar solo of Allen Collins and Gary Rossington from Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Freebird” playing in the background. “Freebird” was essentially a song about the wanderlust, the “rambling” of Americans in search for themselves during that era, so it perfectly suits the scene. And Robert Zemeckis, the director of Forest Gump, so perfectly captures in that scene the manic, chaotic, insanity of American youth in pursuit of meaning and only to reach the end of the line. It was pure genius. He had encapsulated the craziness of that era as we had sown to the wind, trying anything and everything which would make us feel alive and which would give us clues as to why we are here, but instead we “reaped the whirlwind” of out-of-control lives, empty and meaningless.
More on this tomorrow. I pray that you would search for and find meaning in life in the only place you will find satisfactory answers: with God.