The Meaning of Life is Not 42

It’s 4.7

B. Lorraine Smith
6 min readAug 23, 2022
When our vision was blurred, we believed in easy numbers to ease our collective angst. Then we adjusted our ability to sense, for more profound, life-giving possibilities to emerge.

Modern humans: literate on stuff, semi-literate on life

Back when we modern humans* were cosmically young and immature, toddling into the early stages of perceiving a world beyond industrial captivity, we mostly thought in integers. Whole, simple, easy-to-remember numbers gained ground as attractive “answers”.

And so the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything being pronounced as 42 made perfect sense. Comical, delicious sense even.

But back then our collective vision was still a little blurry. We can see now that what looked like a “2” was in fact a “7”. Also, we missed the decimal point. Our senses are getting sharper now.

We’re upgrading our understanding of life.

And since industry is an integral part of life now, business decision-makers need to level up with their understanding of life, too. What does that mean? It means integrating life’s meaning into a business’ purpose — its actual purpose — i.e. what it does for a living. (“Life.” “A living.” I see what you did there, English.)

Since industry is integral to all life, all businesses need to have a good answer to the question: What do you do for life?



B. Lorraine Smith

Former sustainability consultant replacing ESG with reality-based insights about corporate purpose and impact.