The Meaning Behind the Meaning of Life

January 31, 2020 5:44pm Published by Jules Smith in Off Piste Posting (Any day thoughts) 24 Comments


Book cover for The meaning f Life book by Jules Smith

The Meaning of Life

Here is a book with answers.  A book that allows intrusion with permission. Vicarious philosophy. This is the only self-help book you will ever need and here’s the journey I took getting this book to publication.


Because of this often asked but unanswered question, I decided to try and find out ‘The Meaning of Life’ by asking 100 people a set of formulated, deep and meaningful questions because collaboration usually brings about an answer. I came to the conclusion that if I asked 100 people a set of questions and analysed the data thereafter, some sort of meaning would make itself evident and we could all sleep at night.  

I started this project over 4 years ago and gathered together a small number of participants for an A-Z April Blog Challenge that I used to take part in.  Just before the challenge started my father committed suicide.  That certainly put a very different slant on what the meaning of life is for me and what it had or hadn’t been for my father.  I continued with the A-Z challenge which then seemed highly inappropriately relevant. 

The Progression

I’ve always been fascinated with people and their behaviour and somewhat sensitive to feelings. My experience with suicide heightened that sensitivity and awareness – almost obsessively on some occasions – and I became even more determined to figure out how people may find a sense of belonging or satisfaction in a world that seemed to be generally dissatisfied and anxious. 

I spent the next three years trying to reach my 100 people by cajoling, advertising, and generally being a menace to friends and strangers. 

The Participants

It took a good few years to reach my goal before the book acquired the perfect group. 

The participants who kindly took part in my project are from all walks of life and an even split between male and female. They are all aged over 30 in order to have enough worldly experience to give constructive answers to the posed questions. Some have remained anonymous using a pseudonym for privacy purposes and others have used their real names. Most have offered accompanying photographs.  All the people were asked to be honest and open with their answers so that the reader could feel, relate and empathise. I am truly grateful to those who took part in my project and made this book the wonder that it is. 

The Questions

Rather than just ask, “What is the meaning of life?” to those who took part I decided to lead them down a thought-provoking path so that the final answer would come from deep within: logical and emotional; a more rounded answer rather than something flippant and blasé. This ensured that the participant was truly connected to’ the self’ when answering this ultimate question.

 The 9 questions asked are all the same and posed to each of the participants. They look at faith, accomplishments, flaws, secrets, and hindsight and unfold a compelling anecdote about each person. This allows the reader to delve into a personal story and bring about empathy or compassion.   

Some of the entries are very heart-rendering, some are interesting, and others are hilarious. The whole reading journey of this book is a fascinating rollercoaster. 

At the end of the book, I have provided an analysis of the data received by making a pie chart for each question asked so the reader can view the highest percentage.  I wanted to see if a lot of commonalities existed between us as humans and if our deep thoughts ran along a similar vein. 

At the end of the data analysis, ‘The Meaning of Life’ answer is given. 


I hold great faith in this book and marvel at the fact I have managed to pull something like this together that hasn’t been done before.  However, I also recognise that it doesn’t really fit into any particular genre and would never be taken on by a publisher without an agent.  

Non – fiction of this kind is only usually accepted by those with a doctorate in psychology or those that have a Master’s degree in mental health in order that they may give written advice to anyone.  Being a self-proclaimed art philosopher, blogger, and a small-time writer doesn’t cut the mustard. 

I sent this manuscript off to 20 plus agents and only heard from a handful who wished me good luck with this interesting book but they didn’t really know how they could pitch it. 

Had this book been written by Justin Bieber and featured a Kardashian or two you can bet your life it would be a best seller and that should be a good enough indication to us all about how sad and messed up this world is.  This is the people’s psychology – and it may sound corny, butthis is a book by the people – for the people. 

In order to get this fabulous book out into the world and do right by my participants, I have funded the publication myself and hope that it will get out to enough people to make a positive impact.  

Not everyone feels comfortable asking for advice. Maybe they don’t want to be judged.  Maybe they don’t want to hear the same old thing from parents or be placated by a friend.  Maybe they just don’t know where to get it from. Here, in this book is the advice from 100, everyday people. Advice that could make a difference to somebody’s life.

Why this book needs sharing

This unique collection is one of its kind and meets a wide demographic because we are always interested in what others have to share. We all want stories, particularly real ones. This book is different because it involves real people’s thoughts, secrets, failings and accomplishments. You meet humility, shame, and spirit in each entry. Raw honesty and the very meaning in life. It’s a mirror -mirror on the wall – a reflection of us all.  You are not alone and will be able to empathise or relate to somebody within the pages. 

If I could offer you 100 people’s advice on the meaning of life, would you read it? 

The Meaning of Life is available now in paperback and Kindle at Amazon



O, Christmas Tree

January 16, 2020 5:10pm Published by Jules Smith in Off Piste Posting (Any day thoughts) 25 Comments

Satirical Snapshots Back From a Hiatus and Bringing You “It Could Only Happen To Me” Stories On A Random Day Of The Week Just To Be Awkward…

So there I was at the back of my pick-up truck, two Christmas trees (east and west wing) rammed into the back of the bed.  One of the trees still twinkled because I dragged it out of the house with the lights still wrapped around its branches. 

“Lights are still on…” the neighbour said.


“Like that, is it?”


The tree with the lights still attached had started to die within two weeks of decoration despite it being a non-drop, fir-ever, extortionate spruce from some special place in Norway. 

Mine was probably the tree that all the half-cut Norwegians pissed against after a night on the Aquavit. And their dogs. My tree had probably lost the will to live on the truck from Oslomarka to England. 

Before we’d even hit the Christmas rush it was raining bloody needles by the second and when it came to removing the baubles it was as bald as a winter twig. So, the lights were staying put and going to the tip with the tree. 

I dragged that prick of a twig outside my house as soon as the Boxing Day, Christmas dinner sandwiches had been digested.

Pine needles everywhere. 

STILL, I find them.

They hide. 

I suppose it could have been worse

It’s quite a thing to own a pick- up truck in England as our roads are smaller, windier, and we only have 8 million parking spaces for the 37 million cars on the road. It can get a bit tetchy between folk around these parts especially if you have a big car and you take up too much room. However, it’s not often that other drivers play chicken with you cos at the end of the day it ain’t you that’s gonna get squished into your Fiat Uno, is it…

There’s a lot of fun driving a truck here. I especially like that I can chuck a load of stuff in the back – mattresses, furniture, people, animals, contraband…

and Christmas trees. 

Off I sped to the tip with the still twinkly tree and its brother lobbed in the back.


I forgot to tie them down…

And, I forgot to go 30 MPH…

And that’s when I saw them fly out of the bed through my rear-view mirror and soar through the air.

Christmas Carnage

 Oh. My. God. 

Have I killed someone behind me? I asked myself. 

Thankfully not. Turns out that speeding has its advantages. However, I had stopped the traffic in the busy main road both sides and I’m sure I heard someone shouting something like, “What a silly stunt…”

It’s very embarrassing going to rescue your spillage in the road with everyone glaring at you, but I felt the fear and did it anyway despite my initial reaction to do a runner and leave them there. 

I put the trees back in.  I pulled my shoulder, pierced my skin in a gazillion places, and wore my cowering shame in full blush, but I tidied up the road. I got back in my truck and drove very slowly to the tip.

When I got there I saw cars being turned away. I waited to see why.

A man who worked at the household waste centre came up to the car window and said, “Sorry, love. Tip’s shut.  Someone’s just dropped dead getting rid of their tree.”

Dear God.

You really have gotta count your blessings, haven’t you…

Happy New Year.


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