Last time we were near this question, I at on the fence (and spent a while talking phonetics for entertainment). Right now, I think I may have a different take, mostly on account of that significance thing.
We are all being, and in fact we are all doing. You can’t actually stop doing anything. Even doing nothing is still doing a something. At the very least you are thinking or meditating. You’re almost certainly breathing. Verbs take up our whole life, and even when we die we start rotting, returning to the ecosystem or the sky or water, depending where and how we do the whole dying thing.
Everything that can give our life meaning consists of doing. Being just lies underneath it. It supports the whole of life, every action, by allowing a thing to exist that can do things to other things.
So doing is every significance we can see. Even the seeing of significance is a do. We are perpetually trapped in a cycle of action, from zygosis to splitting, to building to birth, to growing to talking to walking to mirth. We don’t stop doing. We are, pretty much what we do.
But, well, does what we do have any impact?
Various laws of conservation mean that all we can do is rearrange matter and energy in different formats. Slow, ever so slowly, its slow dispersal. We shuffle the deck chairs of the universe, moving lumps of stuff around, occasionally changing their shape. At best, we transmit information, but really, we’re just pushing the bits around.
There’s no inherent wonder to any of it. It is significant to us, but only because we’ve trained ourselves to find significance in it. We’ve taught ourselves, through years of doing, and by tying ourselves to the past, that our doings have some kind of meaning.
There’s something intrinsically mystical and mad about the fact that we are. Or at least the appearance of such.
We, as far as we can tell, exist. We can’t do anything to stop that happening, apart from die, and see if we are still there afterwards, which would itself be miraculous.
But so is life, already. All of that insignificance I talked about before, the meaningless fudge of the motion of matter. It isn’t empty, because it has things in it. Things that are, and that therefore can feel and do. We exist, and so it means something. We exist with others, people, animals, plants and rocks, which just multiplies it.
The significance is in the being. Once we’ve been, we can do what we like, but the power lies in the notion, however fantastical, that all this stuff actually exists.
We are in this together.
Unless its just perception, in which case the being is just an illusion caused by a doing. But what is doing the doing but a being?
We are doing beings; being doing.
That’s pretty marvellous.
Especially if you say it wrong out loud.
Illustration by Emma