I know a guy that’s deep into philosophy. He’s really smart … and conversations with him make me feel really dumb. Why? Because he’s forever quoting Nietzsche and Neil de Grasse Tyson and Alain de Botton. Me, I quote Harry Potter and build innuendos out of bread. Actually, I can build innuendos out of anything. It’s a completely pointless talent, but it’s one that makes me very happy.
Back to the philosopher guy. He’s forever throwing around terms like humanist agenda and existential crisis and anthromorphic apologist. I don’t know what any of that means, even after Google. I guess it’s just too sharp for my brain. So when I saw that cartoon up there *pointing* I thought oh no, not again.
Except it made sense to me. Because every once in a while, I get bogged down with questions like why am I here, what’s the point of all this, how do I get where I want to be, is life really worth the drama?
In the past, when I got to this point, I’d feel suicidal. I’d tell myself that since my life had no point, and since my existence had become so needless, then I might as well be done with it. Time, my baby, and a year’s worth of therapy have pretty much drummed out my suicidal tendencies, so at least there’s that. But now I’m left with a lack of purpose and no ready solution to my problem.
Overall, I do have a purpose. To write stories I love. To raise my baby girl. To build a grass-thatched hut and swimming pool. To restore my mother’s beetle. To jump out of a plane at least once. But on a day-to-day level, it’s hard finding a reason to get out of bed, take a shower, come to work, and not kill annoying people on the way.
I envy the people who have faith. When they’re at a low point, when they wonder what life is about, when sh*t hits and nothing seems to work out right, they can turn to God. They can say he has an over-arching purpose for their lives. They can believe that even their misfortunes fit snugly within his higher plan. They can find solace in his promise, his word, his millennium kingdom.
Me, I don’t have faith. I used to have it once a upon a time. I do believe in some superior being. I just don’t know what s/he is all about and where I fit into that plan. That’s if I feature in it at all. Is God is like gravity, a force that rules your life whether you acknowledge it or not? Or is s/he more like witchcraft, which only affects you if you believe it will?
And short of being an existential anarchist (whatever that means), or believing that life has no meaning and simply getting on with it (which has no appeal to me), then how do you find your purpose when you don’t have faith? Whenever I ask this question, my well-meaning friends respond with Bible verses, ancient texts, and calls to meditation. I envy them. I wish I had that kind of faith.
When I was little, all the grown-ups seemed so … well … grown up. And even though my ID and birth certificate insist that I am, I don’t quite feel like an adult. I think about my mother when she was my age, and she seemed to have her shit together in a way I couldn’t approach in a million years. And yet, here we are.
I like to think I’m special, unique, different. That there’s only one me, and that my experience of life is unlike anyone else’s. But this week, I’ve seen a surprising number of posts from people who do manage to get the laundry done but never quite get round to folding them up and putting them away. o/
So it’s possible … no … probable … that existential dread is universal. And while I understand that my existential angst may well be from the God-shaped hole in my heart, I expect that those of us without faith have found their own ways to cope with it. So if you have any suggestion, please share. And … much as I love my brethren and sistren of the faith … no Bible verses please.
♫ Fly away ♫ Lenny Cravitz ♫
5 thoughts on “Existential whatnow?”
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I can think of a few lessons that work with this. If I may?
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