There’s a lot to think about in A Ghost Story, the 2017 movie from David Lowery. There’s also a lot of time to think about it, thanks to the slow pace and long takes. But in particular, there’s a monologue from Will Oldham about halfway through.
As I recall, the monologue goes on for a while longer, but you can get the gist of it from the clip above. The basic premise is that there’s no such thing as meaning or legacy, because eventually all humanity, and all memory of our existence, will be completely wiped away, either by the gradual heat death of the universe, or the total retraction of the universe in the reverse of the big bang.
My thoughts while listening to him, besides that this character was quite insufferable (albeit intentionally I presume), revolved around the idea that while I totally agree with the substance of what he has to say, it seems rather useless as a way to order our lives.
Upon reflection, I still agree with the premise. Life is without any inherent meaning when placed up against the grand scale of eternity. Even if there is some meaning that is hidden from us, our lack of knowledge regarding it results in the same conclusion.
But I no longer believe this idea is entirely useless. This premise, if you accept it, allows us to divorce ourselves from many of the tenets, principles, and dogmas that are promoted as philosophies that we should follow. This frees me (or you or anyone) to focus on human reality, which is that our lives are entirely our own, and we are free to make of them what we will.
Obviously, this does not mean we are free of our circumstance. The world around us happens as it happens, forcing us to react to it or ignore it. Some people are gifted better circumstances than others. But within your circumstance exists the freedom to create whatever sort of life you can manage.
This is what I learned from watching A Ghost Story.