Ever since I can remember I have been obsessed with death and the meaninglessness of life. Every so often, about once a year, it gets really bad and I just stop caring about anything. I am going through that right now. I find myself, asking myself, why? What does it all mean? Why go on? Why keep trying? As I have gotten older I have come up with some answers. These answers are just my answers and they work for me.. I am not going to say I have it all figured out. I doubt I, or anyone else for that matter, will ever have it all figured out.
I am, and probably always will be an Existentialist. This means I believe that there is no inherent meaning to life. Not my life or “life”as a whole. There is no reason for us to be here or not to be here. There is no meaning in any of it, except for the meaning we create. There is no reason for living and breathing, for working and paying bills, for love or relationships, there are no reasons for any of it, except for the reasons we create. In short, the universe gives no fucks.
At first this sounds incredibly depressing, and a lot of the time it is. I am often paralyzed by the thought that nothing I do means a damn thing. I try to remember that that does afford me an incredible amount of freedom. If the universe doesn’t care what I do than I can do whatever I want! Now, that does not mean there aren’t consequences for my actions. What it means is I can do things that are pleasing for me to do as long as I am prepared to deal with whatever the consequences may be. This may come off sounding selfish but there are many acts of kindness that are pleasing too. I like to help people and make them smile. This makes me happy, so I do it. I also like to write and learn new things and then write about those things so other people can learn too. This makes me happy, so I do it.
Existentialism, to me, means letting go of what society says is right and good. It means taking a step back and deciding for myself what is right and good. I like it better this way because at least I know myself and my reasons for thinking and doing the things I think and do. I have a deeper understanding of my own mind and motivations.
Even though the universe doesn’t care about me, I care about me. I have decided that even though living or not living means nothing in the end, I want to live. After you decide to live you have to decide why and what to do. This can be overwhelming at first but take baby step. Start with deciding what gives you pleasure. Is it family, is it writing, is you you wife, what do you enjoy about life? After that go find more things that you enjoy about life, then spread the joy!
I have decided this is what works for me. A lot of that has come from learning more about Zen and what that means. To me Zen is a lot like Existentialism in that there is no one right way to live, there is an emphasis on letting go, and there is an acceptance of life and the world around you. You have to let go of everything in order to learn something about yourself and the world around you. Zen goes a little further and tell us to let go and look inside and find you true meaning and live it!
Both philosophies lead a person to view life from a more detached point of view. We can see the bigger picture without all of the emotional distraction and suffering. This may sound like a life filled with emptiness and meaninglessness but it doesn’t mean that at all. It means seeing the world differently and finding a bigger, deeper meaning. It means freedom and fulfillment! When the meaninglessness of life and death get me down, I remember that even though I will be forgotten one day, I will have lived, and that is wonderful and special. It will have been special for my friends and family and they are the ones who matter, fuck the universe!
So instead of trying to change the universe, which I believe is impossible, I try to just make an impact right now, where I can. I do this because it feels good to do so. I do this because I want to help everyone live a happier life. We only get so long on this planet and we have to make the most of it. Well, I guess you don’t have to because the universe doesn’t care either way, but I care and I want you to have joy and fulfillment.