Humans, at least since the time of the ancient Israelites, and the Greeks more than 2000 years ago, have tried to figure out why we are here and what is our purpose in the vast Cosmos we inhabit seemingly with the significance of a single photon in the Milky Way. Well, after a life approaching a biblical span, I’ve figured it out. The aforementioned Greeks had come close with their Myth of Sisyphus, but they stopped a bit short of the mark.

After I explain this hitherto unsolved mystery, you will be gobsmacked that you hadn’t stumbled on it yourself. We are here to fix things, mostly of our own design that either don’t work or have ceased being operative. We are fast approaching the singularity when fixing things will consume all 1440 minutes of every day. Our only hope is rescue by an AI which while taking over the tasks I’m about to describe might also deprive us of the meaning of life.

Let me give some personal examples that I feel are representative, allowing for minor variations, of most people’s experience. I will do a bit of time compression as not everything listed here happened on the same day.

I awaken before sunrise as the time allowed for sleep has progressively shortened due to the maintenance requirements about to be listed. My first task is to find a plumber who works on a Sunday as the water heater has failed predictably on the most inconvenient day of the week.

This particular Sunday is the last day of a 30-day month which means that all 40 of the watches I have foolishly bought over the years must have the date changed from 31 to 1. Who needs 40 watches? But they were cheap and all on sale hence the large collection of gadgets made obsolete by my smartphone. Adjusting the date takes about an hour.

Next, after my cold shower, the closest plumber active on a Sunday is in Tokyo where it’s already Monday, I and my morning coffee sit down in front of the computer to check my email. Nothing happens. My internet service has defected. The ensuing two hours are an adventure with my internet provider that starts with an automated service check that finds nothing wrong. After repeated attempts to speak with a human, I connect with a friendly man based in Antarctica. He too says I’m online but accepts my declaration that I am not. He offers the standard advice to disconnect my router and after a 10-second pause reconnect it. The router is a closet with 15 years of accumulation of garments and tchotchkes I’ve been meaning to donate to Goodwill but have been too busy adjusting my watches to get around to. It takes half an hour to get to the router. The man from the South Pole shows remarkable patience as I wade through the debris. Finally, I get to the router, but it’s too dark to see the plug. It takes another 20 minutes to find my smartphone and return to the router. In an attempt to turn on the device’s flashlight, I disconnect the polar technician. Fortunately, he calls me back.

Disconnecting the router now takes just a few seconds. Turning it back on requires a 15-minute wait. Mr Amundsen sends me back to my computer which still has no service. The technician again insists that my service is up and running, but says he’ll do a restart from his end. I stifle the urge to ask why he didn’t offer to do so from the start. After another 15 minutes, my internet service is restored. When the provider sends me a text asking me to rate the serviceman I give him a 5 (the highest grade) fearing retaliation if I do otherwise. My coffee is cold and covered with scum. It’s on a heater, but it stopped working.

Next, both dogs demand a walk. I take them both. Halfway through the usual route I get tangled in their leashes and land on my patella – not on the grass, but on the concrete walkway. After limping home with mutts still entangled around my legs, I consider a trip to the ER, but the prospect of a 12-hour wait to see a nurse practitioner convinces me to rely on tincture of time to heal my possibly broken patella as the superior alternative.

When I was changing the date on my 40 bargain watches, I noticed that seven of them were not working because of dead batteries. A trip to the battery man goes on tomorrow’s list.

A glance at my computer screen shows that Windows has decided now is the time for an update. Commanded not to turn the machine off I turn to the stack of letters from the Census Bureau asking for a lot of personal information. The last one threatened to send someone to the house if I didn’t respond. So I fill out the form, not one answer reflecting reality as I think the questions they ask are none of their business. I take the completed form to my mailbox, but the high winds endemic to my location have blown it over. Another repair on the list.

As Windows is updating my computer at a pace comparable to that of an ER, I decide to put some gas in the car. The automatic door opener refuses to respond, so I have to try to reach the cord that manually opens the garage door, which is almost impossible to reach when a car is in the garage. My sore knee notwithstanding I finally grab the elusive cord by standing on the car’s trunk.

When I get to the nearest gas station all the pumps are closed as the station’s tanks are being refilled by a large tanker truck. On a Sunday? A stop at the next station shows gas is available, but my credit card is denied. As it’s the only one I have on me, I head for another station. It has gas and will accept my card, but will only allow me to buy $5 worth of gas. About to call my credit card company, I realize that I left my phone at home.

On returning home with $5 worth of gas, I call the credit card company. After a verification process that would pass muster at the CIA, I get in contact with an agent who asks me more personal questions than the Census Bureau form. Eventually, she tells me that the company put a hold on someone who has the same name as I do. My card is freed. A check of Who Has My Name shows that no one in the US has my name.

Windows is still threatening Armageddon if I turn off my computer. It’s now dark. Time for dinner, especially as I’ve been too busy all day to eat. I open the refrigerator and find it dark and at room temperature. A check of the circuit breakers shows one tripped. resetting it turns the fridge back on, but everything has melted and a little while later the breaker has tripped again. A few days later I learn that I need a new refrigerator. It takes a couple of weeks to find one that fits in the allotted space. In the meantime, I subsist on Firehouse subs.

I decide to watch a movie. Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life seems appropriate. I log onto Netflix and after a long wait get a message that says that the service is temporarily unavailable. They’re sorry for any inconvenience and ask me to try again in a short time – presumably a period similar to that of a Windows update. The update has finally finished. I log into Chrome, but nothing happens. Using Edge I learn that the latest Windows update may be incompatible with the latest version of Chrome. Microsoft and Google don’t like each other. The only solution offered is to do a system restore undoing the Windows update that took all day to complete. I know how to do it through bitter experience. I click the necessary links and the process starts. It is still running.

Thus, ends a typical day filled with events. All requiring human intervention – mine. The day has been representative of just about any other day. My time was spent fixing or dealing with the consequences of things designed to make life easier, but the fruits of human design are as flawed as their designers. The result is that life has been given meaning by repairing and fixing the broken shards of existence. Should the repair time exceed the allotted 1440 referenced above, meaning will be beyond our grasp. Only a program a lot smarter than Windows will solve the time problem, but what about meaning? The same program will have to find a substitute for repair and replace to restore meaning to life. In the meanwhile, all the lightbulbs in my kitchen have gone dark. I think I have some extras in the garage that I’ve been hiding from the government.

Have a meaningful day.