From the age of about 12 onwards, my Pa would intermittently ask me, "Have you thought about the answer to my question? What is the meaning of life?"
Part of me wishes I had an adorable out-of-the-mouths-of-babes-type anecdote to tell you about my response. I don't.
I remember once hanging up the phone from him once and saying to my mum "He keeps asking me what is the meaning of life. What should I tell him?"
Mum was good-naturedly dismissive. "Just say to be happy, or something like that".
I felt relieved to have some idea of what to say, but I also knew that it wasn't the answer he was looking for.
I didn't quite know if he was testing me to see if I knew the answer, or testing me to see if I could think of an answer. Either way, I never did really answer his question.
Part of me is deeply comforted to know that at the age of 12, I had no idea, and at the age of 55 my Pa likely didn't have a clue either.
We had a falling out and I didn't speak to him for the last 5 years of his life.
I refuse to regret it because I took a moral stance in the face of adversity. He taught me that was important, and I genuinely don't think he begrudges me.
I know he had regrets and I know they haunted him. I think he would agree that regrets are only useful in the short term, if at all.
Maybe that's the meaning of life. Maybe not. Who knows?