At Least the Thorns Grow Roses

“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorns have roses.”

— Alphonse Karr, A Tour Round My Garden

There is no doubt that this past year has been a hard one. Were more divided than ever and growing increasingly exhausted by the repetition of disagreements and offenses. We all just want to be heard. We want to be a little happier. We want it all to be a little easier already, and somehow, in our warped minds, we’ve decided instead to go on making the world more horrible and then to give up on it, and each other. We’ve grown collectively cynical. We’ve resigned ourselves to a permanent state of outrage and hopelessness about everything.

It should change, but it won’t. We could change it, but we won’t. We want to be better, but we can’t. It’s too late. I’m too tired. I hate you, and that and I don’t care to deal with it. It’s not my problem. It’s not my place. Nothing is going to change anyway. That’s just the way the world works. Life sucks, and then you die, and I’m just here to make a buck, make a name, and leave.

That’s how I feel sometimes. That’s how a lot of people I know feel too. Every day they wake up, go to jobs they hate, eat food that doesn’t make them feel good, and fill up on coffee to get through. Then they go home to spouses they forgot how to love, watch shows they don’t even like, avoid the news because it makes them angry even though they have no idea why. They go to bed too late even though they have to wake up too early the next day and do it all over again.

They get sad, they get lonely, and no one cares. They want things, need things, and no one cares. They want to do more, and no one will let them. The last time they were happy, truly happy, was grade school and even then, now that they think about it, that wasn’t such a great time either.

Nothing good has happened to them since, and now they can’t imagine anything good happening ever again. There are no miracles, and the bad guys always win. Dreams don’t come true and happily ever after is a lie. So what’s the point?

I don’t have an answer for that friends. I wish I did because I am struggling just as much as you. I have so much doubt and fear, and there are days when I envy those who were never conceived. They never have to deal with being a person, and they never have to deal with disappointment or death. But, most days, I don’t feel that way. Most days, I can see that even though life is hard and painful, its beautiful too.

Most days I’m happy to be here, to breath, to laugh, to eat good food, and to be among other people. Most days I can remember that I am loved and that things are just as good as they are bad. I can see I am lucky, to have a job I hate and a home that needs so much work, and friends who get busy but still care about me. I can see I am lucky to be in love and to have a chance to grow old with someone, even if it means a life of little frustrations, misunderstandings, and mistakes. Life has books, and sunshine, and puppies, and the smell of honeysuckle, and the taste of barbecue ribs and creme brûlée. Life has science, and history, and good people fighting every day to make it better.

We can all join that fight by learning to love life again. When you love life, when you can see all the good there is in it, you can see that it’s worth making better for everyone. You have to see the roses!

That doesn’t mean you should ignore the thorns. This world is certainly going to shit. You have certainly fucked up and failed. The universe is wholly indifferent to your needs or pleas. There will be no breaks, and what you have you have only out of pure chance and hard, dirty work. It will go on like this, people burning down their one home in the universe and burning bridges with the ones they ought to love, and you will be no exception.

But as embarrassing, confusing, and terrifying as a human life is, it’s the most beautiful thing there is. All of it. Look outside right now, the sun, the trees, the people walking here and there, it’s all beautiful. You are lucky to get a chance to see it at all. You are lucky to be so angry and afraid. You are lucky to be here, to love to laugh, to run, and to shout how much you love, hate, or damn it all to hell.

It could be worse, there could be nothing but pain. It could be a hell of a lot better too if we tried. If we looked around and found less reason to be angry and hateful. Imagine if we all found less time to complain and more time to change. Let’s try it. This week just acknowledging that yes, a whole lot of all of this life is shit, but a whole lot of it is good, and right, and rich, and gorgeous, and fucking amazing to be a part of too.

The thorns hurt. People hurt, life hurts, we even hurt ourselves, oh, but the roses! The roses in all their colors and sweet smells. The feeling you get of seeing one, and the face of the lover you give one to are all well worth a few scrapes and scratches if you ask me.

Life isn’t fair. Not one of us was promised a rose garden, and we certainly shouldn’t take for granted that we were given one despite everything. It’s no one’s fault but ours that we never tended it and it’s no one’s fault but ours that what we’re left with if more pain than pretty. But we can fix it. We can care for what we have and do the hard work of growing more.

“The rose’s rarest essence lives in the thorns.”

— Jalaluddin Mevlana Rumi

***

Thanks for reading! If you like this post check out my weekly-ish newsletter for inspiring reads + existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering. Or help support what I do by sharing a cup of coffee.

Featured photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Advertisements

Claim Your Freedom and Make Your Mistakes Your Own

“You have a right to experiment with your life. You will make mistakes. And they are right too.”

— Anaïs Nin

Bad faith is a concept in existential philosophy that describes the tendency of humans, when faced with the pressures of society to act and believe in a certain way, to give up, or more accurately, to easily and conveniently forget, that they are in fact free beings who are under no innate obligation to give their time or choices up to anyone or any institution for any reason.

We grow up being told we have to follow certain rules and walk certain paths, we are supposed to want certain things and get there by doing certain kinds of work for a certain outrageous amount of hours and years of our lives. We are supposed to date certain people and dress and certain way and live from birth to death doing all the things everyone else is doing, without question, without variation.

We naturally want to be part of communities and communities work best when everyone is on the same page. We do best together when all of us are committed to contributing and moving us all forward one small life at a time.

We are also, just as naturally, very curious, adventurous, and searching for a slice of this earth and something in our lives that we can call our own. We want to mean something in our communities, and we want our contributions to be on our own terms.

We are full of contradictions, and contradictions are uncomfortable. It helps to look to those around us and follow the conventional wisdom, at the same time when others look to us, we encourage them to do the thing we know deep down we don’t want to do.

We tell them the lie we tell ourselves. Live your life this way and this way only, because there is no other kind of life you can live.

We create blind spots in our vision in all the places our paths fork. We let chance, and worse, other people, choose our direction because choosing is hard and scary, and uncertainty never lives comfortably in the human mind. We are never taught to live by making choices. We are never taught that living with purpose, a purpose we choose rather than one we are born into is possible for us. We are not taught how to cope with regret or how to feel pride at how far we come or to feel joy in where we are. We are not taught to look at our dreams as anything more than that.

We are taught that life is set in stone by the age of 18, if not earlier. We are taught that there is only one way to success, that success is possible for everyone, and that success and fulfillment are the same things. We are taught we only have one chance and that our lack of success is down to personal failure and flaw.  We are taught never to think too hard about what we are taught but I’m telling you it was a lie and for you to perpetuate it makes you a liar too.

You have choices, and you can change your life if you want too. Of course, not all possible choices are available to us at all times, and certainly, there are no easy choices to make. Freedom carries with is certain consequences and all of which must be taken responsibility for. Still, every time you tell someone, or yourself, especially yourself, that you can’t do something, or that you had no choice at any time, you are living in bad faith.

You might be thinking that if so many options were available to us, if all our dreams could come true and we could live the way we always daydreamed we could, wouldn’t we all be doing that? Well, you would think so, but the truth is, being a human is hard, and sometimes it is easier to forget what it means to be so aware and conscious and free in favor of something a little less terrifying and painful.

As a species were caught between a rock and a hard place. We live lives full of deep emotion, potential, and accomplishment, and not only do we have to die, but all that struggle and regret means nothing when you consider the eons the universe will go on existing after you. So, we choose to make unimportant and easily accessible things the center of our lives so that that pain, that cruel cosmic joke, never has to enter our minds. It’s easier to be mindless than to know what is to come and what can never be relived.

But what a waste of what little we have don’t you think?

It hurts my heart thinking of how much of life is wasted while we do the work we think we have to do and live the lives we think we have no other choice but to live all the while daydreaming of the life we might have. I panic to think of all the unexamined years of my own life that slipped through my fingers like sand while I stupidly, stupidly, stupidly spent my time on nothing that matters anymore. I wish I had known that what hurts can sometimes be what is best. I wish someone had told me to take control of my own mind, to be aware of how I live, and to ask myself all the time why. I wish someone had told me that when you have no answer to that question, it’s time to make a change and that change can always be made.

The usefulness of being aware of such tendencies is to take responsibility for the choices you do make so that even when all else has been taken from you or kept out of your reach, you at least know that everything you did was because you chose to do it. At least you will know that no matter how small or painful your life was at the very least it was your own. What else can we hope for in a universe where thinking feeling being pop in and out of existence alone, helpless, and with no way of knowing how to live or what it’s all for?

Any regret we might feel on the day that death comes for us is a pithy price to pay for such freedom and richness of experience freedom. A wrong turn made here and there along will be of no consequence if we can take pride in all of them having been our own.

An authentic life, that is what we all should be living. I don’t mean a happy life or a life where all your desires are met. No life is free from suffering, or of heartbreak, or loss, or misunderstanding, or oppression, but if we have to hurt so much and if there have to be so many regrets and mistakes at least make them your own. At least let your life be free of lies, and hiding, and of giving your life over to people who don’t have to live it for you and won’t be the ones to lose it when it comes your time to part with it.

You can do things, you can improve things, and you can choose what kind of person you want to be. You choose your words, your beliefs, and values, the way you will look, and who you will count amongst your friends and loved ones. You choose how to spend your time, at this job or that, and you choose what leisure time means too. You choose your calling and your path and your passions. Society never says you have to do anything, it only tries to dissuade you from disrupting anyone around you and waking them up too.

Were all steered in the direction that benefits everyone else, but in that cohesion and calm, we lose the only thing we have in this world, our time on it. Even if you wanted to spend your whole life making nothing, creating nothing, learning nothing new at all, at least make sure you are the one who made the choice. Not advertising, not your mom, or your boss, or your spouse, and especially not everyone else around you just doing what has always been done and wanting you do do the same so they never have to think about all the time and freedom they let slip away too.

You have the right to be a free and thinking being, and you have the misfortune to be a being with an intermediate lifespan, don’t give up one minute of it to anyone who any wants to use it for the benefit of their bank account, or their comfort. Live your life the way you choose.

Fall in love too fast, feel too much, quit your job, make less money if it means you live your dream. Say yes. Say no! Embrace being different, living different, and thinking differently. Embrace choice and make as many as you can before someone makes them for you. Don’t be afraid. Make as many mistakes as you can on your way to getting it right, whatever that means for you!

You can’t change it all, and you can’t do any more than can be done in one lifetime, but you can at least be true to yourself. You have a right to do it, and more than that it’s the right thing to do, and it’s long past time we stop acting like it isn’t.

Go, claim your freedom and your truth, and never forget that in all of the creation you are among the most privileged to have either at all.

***

Thank you for reading! If you like this post check out my weekly-ish newsletter for inspiring reads + existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering. Or help support what I do by sharing a cup of coffee.

Featured image by Ian Espinosa on Unsplash

We are Nothing, and this is No Place, Enjoy!

Where you come from is gone, where you thought you were going to never was there, and where you are is no good unless you can get away from it. Where is there a place for you to be? No place.

Nothing outside you can give you any place,” he said. “You needn’t look at the sky because it’s not going to open up and show no place behind it. You needn’t to search for any hole in the ground to look through into somewhere else. You can’t go neither forwards nor backwards into your daddy’s time nor your children’s if you have them. In yourself right now is all the place you’ve got. If there was any Fall, look there, if there was any Redemption, look there, and if you expect any Judgment, look there, because they all three will have to be in your time and your body and where in your time and your body can they be?”

― Flannery O’Connor, Wise Blood

I am deep in existential thought this morning. There is so much that hurts about being alive that we have spent considerable evolutionary and cultural time building elaborate defenses against our own minds. We work very hard to protect ourselves from the knowledge of death, suffering, and disappointment but every so often—just before we fall asleep, or perhaps while starting at a particularly beautiful sunset, pair of eyes, or our own reflection in the mirror—we remember what we work so hard to forget. We remember that we are nothing and nowhere after all.

Please, I swear this is not meant to bring you down. I think it’s a good thing for us to remember that for most of us our existence will be good but ordinary. We will have regrets, ou probably does already. We will be sad, somewhere deep down, we all are. You will be scared, and angry, and you will find yourself reacting in the two ways all humans do, quiet acceptance or white-hot rage.

This is how we cope with the knowledge that we are stuck. We cannot fight time or space. We will have only this lifetime, this planet, and this set of circumstances. We will do what we can, sure, that is where our greatest strength lies. We will exert whatever influence we can upon the universe to have some scrap of control over who we are and what life will be for each of us.

We cling to half-truths. Each of us is unique, oh but we are each dreadfully boring ad ordinary too. We can change each change the world, yes, but never all on our own. We can be whatever we want to be, but we have no knowledge of how to be it and so spend most of our time making mistakes and learning again and again that what we thought was our path turns out not to be after all.

So what could be so motivating about that? Well, whenever I remember how short and sad my life will eventually be, on instinct I search for the good. I collect whatever happiness and accomplishment I can find in memory, and I let it fill me for the moment. I hold tight to it in the hope that when it is my time to go I will go with a smile.

Then I immediately remember that once I am dead, it won’t really matter much either way whether I was happy or sad or did what I wanted or didn’t. It may matter to my loved ones, but they will be gone one day too. The miraculous thing about this thought is that instead of sending me into a depression, it feels entirely freeing (usually).

You see, in humanity’s attempt to hold on to the “now” so that we can believe in forever we work hard, so hard, to do a whole lot of things we don’t want to do. There are so many of us who work jobs we hate and live in places we hate because we think we have to. We waste every single day doing a whole lot of things that don’t matter all that much to us, but we have tricked ourselves and each other into believing they do.

So, what does that mean? Not a whole lot to be honest. I’m not calling for a radical revolution. I am not pretending I know how to change your life, hell I don’t even know how to change my own in all the ways I want to. What I do know, what I believe in, and what matters more to me that anything, are those teeny, tiny, changes we can make. They are all we have, all we can ever have, besides lady luck.

This week, I have very little to give you in the way of advice. Facing yourself and the truth of you fragility and inevitable demise is hard and terrifying. So, maybe just really think about what matters. Deep, deep down, past all the things you were taught should matter. What will you cling to? What will make you feel like this life has been a good one? What kind of future do you want for the people who will come after you, who you will never know and will never know you?

There is no right or wrong answer. You may find you just want to make yourself happy and the people who come next ought to worry about themselves. That is entirely valid. You may want money and fame, and you may want something to pass down to your children. You may not even want children. There is nothing wrong with living your life however you want to, just remember time is short. Look around you, this, this, is all you have. You should do what you can to make the most of it! You should try to find what happiness and meaning you can here.

Enjoy your life.

Or don’t, I guess. There is no right answer.

As for me, I try every day to do something small that feels big, that feels like a step, to more of those memories and accomplishments I can cling to. I try to remember why I do it. Not because I want to be rich and famous, that life isn’t for me, but to do nothing more than say “Lisa was here!”. Another illusion I cling to, one where it matters whether I was here or not but one I cannot seem to let go of.

Somewhere deep down I do want to have a small impact on what is to come, even if I will never see it. I want to lessen the pain, in whatever way I can, of a girl, far in the future, who may have the fortune and the bad luck to be born a little like me. I want to believe that people will live lives that make them feel good, or at least a bit more accepting of not just death but of every disturbing and embarrassing aspect of being a fragile human being on a fragile planet at the mercy of dangers, we cannot even fathom.

I want to imagine a future where we understand who we are and what we want to do, together. I want that because of the very few things I believe in one is that we are all we have and we have to start acting like it.

So I work through my ugly truths trying to get at what this little insignificant life means to me. I flash my half-assed answers, my process, my fears and dreams wherever I go hoping that others will face ugly and uncomfortable truths too. I hope in doing so they can find what I have, a sad reality where we are nothing and nowhere but where we can come together and make whatever this “life” thing is something really grand and good.

***

Check out my weekly-ish newsletter for interesting reads + some of my own existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering, or help support what I do by sharing a cup of coffee.

Featured image via Unsplash

Jean-Paul Sartre on Freedom and Responsibility

“I exist, that is all, and I find it nauseating.”

Jean-Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness

I have been interested in Sartre for a long time, but I haven’t yet gotten around to reading his most famous book Being and Nothingness. From what I have read about him, though, his philosophy sounds like something I could definitely get behind.

Sartre was an existentialist. He followed and endorsed a philosophy that faces the weirder and more painful aspects of the human condition, and attempted to shed light on the truth of the human condition. At the center is the fact that humans are alone, and we are wholly responsible for what we do in life. There are no single sets of rules and no single meaning for any of us and to believe in such things is to believe in an illusion.

The philosophy sounds depressing, but when you study it, think about it, and come out of the other side gives us a better sense of freedom and optimism.

I may not have read him, but I have collected a few of his quotes. Taken out of context I can’t be sure what he means, but some speak to me nonetheless. My favorites have to do with humans accepting the fact that God does not exist. I don’t want to debate this because the point isn’t whether God is or isn’t real the point is that for people who know he doesn’t exist the realization, despite appearances, can be jarring and upsetting.

“That God does not exist, I cannot deny, That my whole being cries out for God I cannot forget.”

 Jean-Paul Sartre

As most religious people assume, letting go of God does leave quite a void. The trick, and for some nonbelievers, the entire crux of it all, is to face the hard truth. You have to accept that the emptiness inside you is a reality. To deny it is to lie to yourself and to waste your life in lies. Existentialism begins with seeing that humans are untethered and free. As Sartre would see, our existence comes before our essence. We are here before we have a purpose. If there is a God, things are the other way around.

Now, facing these facts are hard. So, of course, most humans spend their whole lives running from it all. We would rather believe we have to do this or that, that we have rules and have to follow social constructs. We would rather give up our freedom of choice and say that our purpose and plan was laid out before we got here, and further give it up by believing that we must do this or that once we are here than deal with the uncomfortable fact that at any time we can do anything we like.

“We are left alone, without excuse.”

Jean-Paul Sartre

Whenever you think you can’t leave your job, you can’t leave your spouse, you can’t pick up and move to Austrailia, you are lying. You can, you always can. To say you cannot is to lie to yourself, and remember, lying to yourself only limits the quality of the life you will have.

It isn’t easy for us to do those things, but it isn’t impossible. The biggest hurdle is capitalism, and from what I understand,  Satre had some things to say about that too. Capitalism makes us feel trapped.

The point is you should never let yourself get stuck. Never forget you have more freedom than ever feels possible. And as we all know, with great power, comes great responsibility. You are free and with that freedom, the option of blaming anyone else for who you are and what you do is no longer available.

The loneliness, the freedom, and the responsibility are all scary things but to turn from them is to turn away from seeing the world for what it is and enjoying all that life has to offer. You have only one life, don’t waste it on illusions. I don’t mean God entirely, I mean the illusion that whatever you have is all there is and that all there is is what other people say you can have.

“Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does.”

Jean-Paul Sartre

Just like any philosophy the entire truth of being is not contained in any one but a little bit of wisdom can be found in each. There are things I don’t agree with Sartre on exactly.

For example, I agree that for humans, existence proceeds essence. There is no implicit purpose in our design. I also agree that there is no designer. I don’t agree that there is no design. DNA  gives us our design and to some extent determines some of our nature. The way Sartre has explained things, I think he means to say that each human being starts as a blank slate, and that isn’t true.

I believe there may be some limits on what we can and can’t do; I just believe there aren’t as many as we think there are. We have much, much more freedom than we can ever imagine. The sad part is we act in ways that limit our own freedom, both as individuals and a society.

I hope to read Sartre’s work soon, and I hope to pull as much wisdom as I can from him. I will treat him as I would any other great mind. I will take what makes sense, what can work for me, and what I think will improve this world and use it. The rest I will toss. From what I have heard of the man I expect to keep more than I throw away.

“Everything has been figured out, except how to live.”

 Jean-Paul Sartre

***

Written in honor of Jean-Paul Sartre’s 111th birthday.

If you like this post, consider signing up for my newsletter. It’s new, but I really put my heart into it. ♥

Short and Sweet Reviews // The Stranger

“Mother died today. Or maybe yesterday; I can’t be sure.”

// Albert Camus, The Stranger

The Stranger (or L’Étranger in French) by Albert Camus is a book that pushes the philosophies of existentialism and absurdism to extreme situations and conclusions. We follow the main character, Meursault from his mother’s funeral to his casual murder of a man he recognizes and his subsequent trial. All the while we witness him taking a passive role and we learn what can happen when a person has no passion for life and will not act to save his own skin.

Meursault is called The Stranger, or The Outsider, because he is indifferent to all that is around him. To live this life, or that life, or no life at all seems to be all the same to him.

“I opened myself to the gentle indifference of the world.”

// Albert Camus, L’Étranger

To be honest with you this was not one of my favorite books. I couldn’t tell if Meursault was indifferent by nature or just very depressed. I know Camus is trying to make a point. I agree that there was no intrinsic meaning to life but damn, I at least like living enough to fight to keep on doing it!

So, do I recommend it? Yeah, I do, but only if you’ve got nothing else more interesting lined up or you find it cheap in a thrift store or something. Camus does raise some interesting questions and the book will frustrate you enough to force you to examine what you would have done and why. The problem is Meursault sounds so bored with his life it makes you bored with it too!

“Since we’re all going to die, it’s obvious that when and how don’t matter.”

// Albert Camus, The Stranger

I did learn a few things: I learned not to get involved in other people’s domestic affairs. I learned to come in out of the heat if the sun feels too bright or you begin to feel dizzy. Finally, I learned that no matter what you must always take an active role in saving and preserving your own life. You have to care because no one in this world is more wants you to you go on living but you.

Or don’t. It doesn’t matter much either way I suppose :)

It is Important That You Know You are Important

Hello and happy Monday dear readers. I hope your weekend went well and I hope you are able to start the week off on the right foot. For the first time in a long time, I felt prepared for the work week ahead of time and I hit the ground running. It is strange to feel motivated when there is also a part of me that feels so tired and a little down.

If I keep moving, if I stay busy, I feel ok. If I stopped to think too long I feel my depression sneaking out and around me. My old friend asking if I am ready for them to return.

For a little while now I have been feeling very small. I feel unimportant. I feel the vastness of time and space all around me and I feel like I do not matter one bit. I know I matter to my friends and family now but eventually, they won’t matter either. It seems it is time again for a mild existential crisis. I’m surprised it took so long for it to rear it’s ugly head again.

So what do you do when you begin to feel like your life has little to no purpose or value? What meaning can be found for those like me? People who see the world for what it is, nothing but a small island floating through an essentially empty, cold, and callous universe? What keeps you going when you know there is now higher authority beyond other humans who matter just as little as you do?

Well, as someone who goes through this sort of depression regularly I can tell you that all you can do is get through it, one step and one day at a time. The best way is to turn your thoughts inward and remind yourself that while you may not live forever and you may be forgotten in the distant future that you do in fact matter. You matter just as much as any other human being does.

When was the last time anyone ever told you how important you are?

// Maya Angelou

Maybe what is outside this world and this time just doesn’t matter. Today matters, this moment matters, and you matter, right now! It’s everything else that shouldn’t matter. The rest of the universe, as far as we know, is lacking in humanity. It is lacking in the beautiful curiosity, enthusiasm, and joy that can easily be found here on Earth and inside of each of us. We are what matter because we are all we have and right now matters because each moment will only happen once and is unique in itself.

You matter because you are the only you there is and no one else in this world will experience this moment from your perspective every again. You may not make a huge impact on the cosmos but you will matter to one person, and they will matter to another, and so on.

And if that isn’t enough, remember, you are important because you are all you have in this world. Even if you can’t live forever and you can’t do everything you can make a life that means something to you.

That is what I tell myself. I matter to me. I am the one who makes my life worth living and I am the one who sees how beautiful and unique I am. I am a witness to my own greatness and it will be quite a show.

I matter, you matter, to each other and to ourselves, and it is so important that we know that.

P.S. The title came from a quote that for the life of me I cannot place. If you know who said it please let me know

Featured image via Cwote

Oh Look, It’s Time For My Yearly Existential Crisis

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.

11234a55876638fbf760b7832be5a7b0