The story below is fictional. It is certainly not real, and all the names have been substituted with fake names to protect confidentiality and respect anonymity…sort of.
In a big watery blue ball, lie a small village, and in that village, lived Hung. Hung was a normal boy who lived in a happy family, with both of his parents living, breathing and loving each other. He was well educated and was one of the best in his class. He had a job that he loves in the field that I studied in.
Some might say he had everything that most people dream of. But despite all the blessings that he was getting, he was not happy. One night, his brain wakes him up, and asks him the question that it had been asking for the longest time “What is the meaning of life?”.
“How the f*ck do I know? Just go back to sleep, we got a long day ahead!” he replied.
“But no matter what you do tomorrow, it is not going to matter, isn’t it?” the brain said.
“Of course, it does! If I do the right thing tomorrow, I will become a rich and powerful man. I can have everything I want. And then I will be happy.” said Hung.
His brain grew angry, “Oh please, you and I both know that it doesn’t matter. A happy life comes from within yourself, not from outside materials. You don’t have to work for a job that you don’t like to buy things that you don’t need”.
At this point, Hung hated his brain so much. It was 2 am at the momment, and he really needed to get some sleep. “Looks, no more Fight Club reference, this isn’t the right time, go to sleep, and we will talk about this later”.
He then tried to clear his mind, forced his eyelids to stay closed. But the mind is like a pond, the more he tried to bring peace to it, the more violently it reacted back to him. His thoughts began to build up and came crashing down like those big waves from the ocean in a stormy day, drowning him in an endless sea of questions about the meaning of everything, the meaning of his existence itself.
Unable to become tranquil, Hung left his bed. He climbed out to the roof, lying down, and hoped that the peaceful sky can help him calm his stream of thoughts.
Looking at the stary sky, he can’t help but notice the bright moon, shining in the middle of the empty black space. As if at that moment, he and the lady of the night were the only two people that are still awake.
Having no one to talk with, he looked at the moon and thought of sharing his thoughts with her. “What a crazy thing to do, to share your thoughts with a life-less object, much less when it is 384,400 km away from you.” he thought. But still, it is better than holding his thoughts inside.
He then opened his mouth, and started to jokingly ask the moon, “Hey, what is the meaning of life?”.
He then chuckled, realizing the sound itself can’t travel through a vacuum; even if the moon were alive, she wouldn’t able to hear him, and his pathetic endeavour to talk to her was pointless.
But to his surprise, a loud voice seems to be shouted out from the moon. “How the f*ck do I know? Just go back to sleep, we got a long day ahead!”.
Taken aback by this, he asked again, “Moon, is that you?”.
The moon then replied, “Oh, hello there. I thought it was my brain that tries to keep me up at night again.”.
“But, I have to say, I have a long day tomorrow. It’s rude to wake someone up at this time of the night”, the moon said.
“I’m sorry, I thought you were awake.”, Hung said.
The moon giggled, she replied, “Well, have you ever heard me singing at night?”.
Hung laughed, “No, I haven’t. I suppose you are just like the rest of us. You sleep during night time too eh?”.
The moon kindly replied, “No, not really. Some nights, my brain kept me awake. It asks me, what is the meaning of my existence and why do I keep spinning around this big blue ball?”.
“You and I have a lot of common, too bad I don’t date moons.”, Hung said.
“Haha, there are 7 billion of you, but there is only one me. You should feel lucky if you can date a moon”, she said.
“Haha, I suppose so.”, Hung replied.
Notice Hung’s sad face, the moon said, “Since you already wake me up, tell me, what is it that bothering you so much?”.
Hung thought about the word “bothering” for a moment. Everything in his life was perfect, yet he didn’t appear to be living it, but instead, endure by the things that life presented to him. For a long time, he can’t seem to connect to anyone. He was an introvert, afraid to go out and talk to people. He scared that if people talk to him, they will found out that he is an imposter, that he is not the person that they are looking at, but instead a hideous creature that can’t seem to do anything right. Every step that he walks, every minute that he sits to do something, people’s eyes seem to run across his body, noticing every finger and every action of him. They wait until he makes a mistake, and like a lion, they jump to him, judging him and letting him no chance to escape. That’s why he doesn’t trust anyone. That’s why he pushes everyone in his life away, but yet, he still wanted to connect with people, to feel the joy of having a friend, having a person that you can trust and share everything with or just simply, he wanted to feel normal.
A stream of tears came out of his eyes, “There are many bad things happen in my life. But mostly, my loneliness won’t let go of me. I have no one to talk or connect with. Why do I have to live this life? To suffer? Can I just…end it?”.
The moon fall silent for a moment, she almost tearing up, her voice quavered, “You know, you are not the only one who is alone out there. Look at me, I travel around this earth alone, for a much longer time than you can imagine, but still, nobody has joined me in this job yet.”
She then went on saying, “It’s easy for you to end your life if you want to, but I can’t end my life. My journey is bound by the law of physics, as long as gravity and space still works, I still have to do this job alone”.
“You are much more like me that I thought. You must be depressed all this time not having anyone to talk with.”, Hung said.
“Well, no. After all this time alone, I learnt that it turns out, no matter how lonely you are, one day, two lonely individuals will meet. Just like you and me right now.”, the moon answered.
She then silenced for a while as if she was collecting her thoughts before she chuckled, “You know, for the first few thousand years of moving around the earth, I was just like you. I constantly ask myself, “What is the meaning of all of this? Can I just stop moving around the earth and find another planet to move around? Why do I do what I do?””.
She said, “It turns out that other planets also have moons. Mars has 2, Uranus has 27, and Jupiter has 62. I can easily join Jupiter. He already has 62 moons; he won’t notice an extra one.”.
Hung that said, “But then earth will have no moon. Then there will be no one to regulate tides, no werewolf movies and no Clair de lune. There will be no life on earth; thus, no Radiohead for me to listen to when I am depressed, and no audience that Radiohead can play to”.
The moon bursted out laughing, “Yes, that right, now you are slowly getting it. I can just move to another planet but I can’t change who I am. I’m the moon, I travel around your planet, to bring life to you, to Radiohead and to everything else. I alone can’t define the meaning of life, and the meaning of life is not just for me. The universe doesn’t give a shit about you, but your existence certainly matters to everyone around you. Just like my existence to life on earth, you and people around you give meaning to each other life. So now you see, life is not about what we get at the end of it, but about what we do while we still experiencing it. Like when dancing, the meaning of the dance doesn’t lie at the end of it, but only appears while the dance is still happening.”
Hung opened his eyes wide, for the longest time, he was not happy with the ideas of life that people around him believed. He believed the idea of we giving our life its meaning is bullshit. We didn’t choose to be born, why should we give our life its meaning instead of just going back and be like we never been born? But after this conversation with the moon, he realized the harmony in the universe, how he is part of life, and life itself is him. He understood that life is not just a joke that some guy up there created just to amuse his sick taste of entertainment, but it’s a whole set of things interacting with each other, living with each other and exist at this time of the ever-changing universe.
The moon said, “The current thing that I do to bring meaning to this life is to regulate the tides, shine the world during night time and talk to a kid on his rooftop at 2 am. However, I will not exist forever. Maybe one day, a meteor will smash me into pieces or humans themselves will smash me into pieces. When you are up here, you see every missile from every country pointing at you. It’s scary as hell.”
“Haha, yes, I can understand that. I guess, no matter what you do, the things that you are doing bring meaning to other people’s lives, just like other people bring meaning to your life. Not a very convincing meaning, but thanks for enlightening me, pun intended.”, Hung answered.
The moon laughed, “You and your silly pun did make me laugh somehow. Well, are you ready to wake up then?”.
Hung confused, “But…I didn’t sleep yet. How can I wake up?”.
The moon smiled, “I guess everything makes total sense in this state of mind. Even an absurd story like a person talking to a life-less sphere miles away from him about the meaning of life seems understandable, isn’t it?”.
Realized that he had fallen asleep from the moment the moon first started to talk back, he laughed out loud for a moment. But not long later, sadness began to take over. “But then, you are not real. But I enjoy our night a lot. Can I see you again?”.
“You silly little sausage, you can always find me in your dreams, and I will forever be your lady of the night.”, the moon replied.
Hung woke up when a gentle breeze of morning swept through his body. All this time that he had been living, the answer to this life had been in his head all along, but only appears when he had his first conversation with a friend he never had and probably will never meet again.
He looked to the sky and smile. He understood that it’s the nature of life, that things will always change, people will always come and go, but it is an honour to have someone that changed and remained a part of your life, even when that someone is an imaginary moon.