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Restlessness

By Antoine Grondin, Saturday July 23, 2016 - Is there an error in this post? Submit a fix here.

Some days are hard. Trying to make the most of your life without being sure what’s the value of life. Having life goals that you feel are arbitrary, because life is arbitrary, and thus any life goal must be arbitrary.

Thinking that life is meaningless and trying to accept this as a statement doesn’t imply that the experience of life is meaningless. The fact that I’m experiencing life and feeling emotions makes the experience meaningful, simply because it feels good, or bad.

The acceptance that life is meaningless but that experiencing it is not, gives me an overarching theme: making the most out of it. And everything hard follows from there. How do you make the most out of it? What activity will give you the most amount of joy. What strategy will lead to long term joy, instead of short term joy, preferably a mix of both!

I gather that life as a secular is harder than that of a believer. Seculars have to make up purpose for themselve, and deal with the fact that ultimately, they can’t deny the meaninglessness of life.

We know that life is meaningless, but we decide to ignore this inconvenient truth when we chose to enjoy its experience regardless.

I’ll call this The Great Act Of Hypocrisy, and I think it’s a necessary sacrifice of consistency for the optimistic secular person. It seems necessary that we pick arbitrarily purposes and decide as a matter of practicality, that they are more important than other purposes. To distinguish from the notion of things that would have a purpose in absolute (if there was true absolute purpose), I’ll call those “hypo-purpose”, for they are hypocritical purposes.

My problem right now is trying to find a strategy to cope with day to day existential anxiety, worries that I’m not spending the time I have left efficiently, that I’m wasting it on things that aren’t hypo-purposeful. What are those hypo-purposeful things, and how best to achieve them? Assume that there’s three methods to achieve existential satisfaction:

  1. Continually achieve, or move toward the achievement, of hypo-purposeful things.
  2. Stop thinking about the question and numb yourself into satisfaction.
  3. Make the choice that your Great Act Of Hypocrisy will be to adhere to a religious belief, because it’s a convenient, ready made solution.

My preference is toward the first method, but it seems to be the harder method of them all, and I’m not sure it’s possible. Some days, I feel existentially satisfied, which gives me hope that it’s a reachable goal. But then there’s all those other days. Trying to be existentially satisfied in this manner seems to require constant goal reaching, which is exhausting. Exhausting because it’s hard to continuously be moving forward, and sometimes because you just don’t know how to move forward. Not knowing how to move forward is the worst of both, because it gives you feelings of restlessness.

Anyways, at least I wrote this down. I’ll keep feeling restless all day, reading Wikipedia entries on nihilism, existential nihilism, existential crises, existencialism and secular spirituality, in hope that someone maybe found a name for the problem… until I get tired and go to sleep. And then tomorrow I’ll wake up feeling aweful that I didn’t make the most of yesterday.