When I was young my parents a tried to instill in me Christian ideals, a reverence for God, and a proper and deep fear of hell. It never worked, not for one second. I saw from a very early age that there was no God, and even more frightening, no real need of one either.
Their beliefs, rituals, and practices always felt like a veil, hiding something truly terrifying but much more real than anything the bible and it’s God had to offer. I peeked behind that veil, I asked myself what does life mean without God, and I found….nothing. Once I sensed that truth I was flung into a state of anxiety, grief, and wonder over the strange predicament and place of the human species on this planet and in time.
This is what we call an existential crisis, and I have been having one for as long as I can remember.
If life has no meaning, then what is the point of everything we try to do, build, make better, or leave behind? If there is no meaning of life, why should we go on living at all? If there are no Gods where did we come from? Why do we exist? And why are we able to ask such questions? How are we to cope with such knowledge, and spirit, and longing in such a short lifetime? How do we cope with life and then death?
the rejection of all religious and moral principles, often in the belief that life is meaningless.
synonyms: skepticism, negativity, cynicism, pessimism; disbelief, unbelief, agnosticism, atheism
Nihilism can be a very pessimistic worldview, and it is often where most people find themselves after religion. You accept that life amounts to nearly nothing at all and you set about spreading the news. When you are challenged you point out that every religion, every myth, every law and system of morality was invented, changed, and misused by humans and only humans. You reject any plea or point made to the human spirit and focus on the futility of our search for meaning, perfection, or truth.
There is nothing out there for us and to look to the heavens for answers is a waste of time. What we seek doesn’t exist. We are nothing but another chemical reaction happening on a rather small and fragile planet, orbiting a rather ordinary star, in a featureless corner of the cosmos.
a philosophy based on the belief that the universe is irrational and meaningless and that the search for order brings the individual into conflict with the universe
The meaning we long for cannot be found outside of ourselves. For some this conclusion is at odds with everything they feel inside. Every fiber of their being tells them that their life is important, that all life is important. They cannot take the leap, let go of God, and accept that to whatever extent life matters or not, it only matters or doesn’t matter to us alone. The answers we seek are inside of us.
a philosophical theory or approach that emphasizes the existence of the individual person as a free and responsible agent determining their own development through acts of the will.
The truth is, being alive is hard. Having all this intelligence, this emotion, this desire, and forethought is painful in a universe that doesn’t even know you are there. It doesn’t make sense to us, so we try not to think about it.
But I want us to think about it.
So, for my A to Z Blogging Challenge theme this year, I have chosen to share with you all quotes and saying of deep and depressing insight into the bleak realities of the human condition. I want to share what keeps me up at night, what scares me, confuses me, what is painful and what is interesting about existing.
From what I can tell we all grapple with trying to understand what it means to be alive and come to terms with the purpose of our time on this planet. For most of us the conclusions are far too disturbing and to talk about such things in public is considered taboo.
But I want us to talk about it, together.
I want us to talk about it so we can transcend this truth and suffer unto a greater understanding of who we are. What sets us apart, the only dignity we have, is our thoughts, our freedom, and our ability to shape our world into something all our own. Our power lies in our stubbornness, our empathy, our intelligence, our consciousness, and yes, even in our despair and suffering, which belong to us and no other life forms. We ought to embrace that.
Most of the quotes I’ll share come from famous philosophers like Albert Camus and Friedrich Nietzsche, but I’ve tried to include more recent pop culture insights too. Of course, the list isn’t comprehensive. I had to choose one for each letter, and there are many quotes I love that I was forced to leave out. I’m saving those for future posts after the challenge is over.
I promise it won’t all be pessimism and meaninglessness, though. I’ll try to leave you with some joy or inspiration. I’ll make sure to at least remind you that while the universe may not care about you and that eventually we will all die and it will be like you were never here at all, even though none of us matters, you are important, to you!, and that is good enough.
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This post was written for the A to Z Blogging Challenge Them Reveal link-up.