Hi, this is my first time on this site and it looks like it is not too active but hopefully it will pick up. Just so you know, I'm a sixteen year old from Mississippi (please leave all stereotypes out of your jugdement of my character haha, yes we where shoes...). Anyway, here's what I humbly think:
Meaning, in the sense that most people in this thread are conveying which is much like the word purpose, is an elusive term. Any meaning that you assign to human life leads to another question of meaning. Example: The meaning of life is to love God etc....Well, what's the meaning/purpose of loving God? To make God happy. Then what is the purpose of making God happy?
It can go on like this infinitely. So the conclusion I draw is that humans, like all other animals and lifeforms exist because the DNA in our cells exists. The DNA exists because certain chemicals exist, and this goes on back until...The Big Bang??? (not sure where it all leads back)
Now, the distinction between humans and other lifeforms is a very important one, and that is that humans are capable of reason and therefore capable of questioning (or the other way around?). Because humans possess the "instinct" to live and at the same time the ability to question/reason, it is only natural that humans question the purpose of their own existence simply for the fact that humans understand what purpose is. Because we understand purpose, it would be very depressing to accept that we have no purpose other than the purpose we assign to our lives, which could be religion, altruism, peace, etc. I believe though, that this must be the case. If we say that we are apart of some greater plan, then what is the meaning of the plan itself? We very often reject answers like the one I have proposed, but that is really only because our minds (for whatever reason, perhaps evolution?) give us desire for purpose, or desire to do "good".
So, like many people have been saying, the meaning of life is whatever you want it to be. If you have a desire to study philosophy, then fulfill that desire. If your "higher calling" is to help the poor, then go for it. Even if I'm right in saying that there really is no "greater" purpose for our existence, that's not a reason to abandon hopes, dreams, etc.
Wow, that took a long time; I hope someone will read this and leave some ideas that I overlooked haha. peace