I live a lot of my life stuck in my head. I’m a thinker. That isn’t to say that I’m some sort of philosopher filled with any sort of insight or life changing advice. I simply spend a lot of my time thinking about life. I think about how best to solve the bullying problem, I think about how a psychopathic, egomaniac can be elected as “leader of the free world”, I think about what every little aspect of life means. I think. A lot. I think the issue that arises from this thinking is the overwhelming search for meaning. Often I will analyze how me tripping up the stairs effects the person I am. I will ruminate on things that most people find meaningless and mundane. Does anyone else do this? The fact that you stubbed your toe on the table leg is somehow connected to the plans of the universe? I fight with this every single day and it gets exhausting. The problem with this is that if everything has meaning; if everything happens for a reason, then what is the point? If everything is pre-planned by the universe or some all-powerful being, then what is the reason for making any sort of decision in life. This is an idea that has plagued me for most of my life and continues to effect me today. What is the point of trying to further your life, if it’s all pre-determined anyways. Where is the reason to sacrifice and work hard, if in the grand scheme of things, it was a waste?
There is an epic struggle in my mind. On one hand, I want to believe that what I do and the decisions I make create a difference in not only my world, but in the worlds of other people. That what I do can positively affect the realities of other people who surround me. I want to know that there was a point to my existence, that self-determination was a big part of my impact, and that I was able to leave a positive, helpful, and memorable footprint on the world. On the other hand, I have this belief that every action/reaction/occurrence in my life was somehow predetermined. That life had been planned out beforehand and therefore my actions and decisions are nothing but an illusion granted to me. I dwell constantly on these ideas and fight hard to discover their meaning and effect on life in general. If everything happens for a reason, then what is that reason? Why did God decide that that child needed to die of a horrible disease like cancer? Why did that person experience disgusting sexual depravity? Why did that person deserve to be born in a country torn apart by civil war? It begs the question as to whether some lives have an inherent worth higher than others? There is little hope in this idea. How can we as a species feel the power to grow and change the struggle that we encounter daily? How can we distinguish the guilt and fear we feel if it is all simply part of a larger plan? What would the point of our existence be?
I want to believe that we have the freedom to chose the path we walk. I want to know that what I say or do has some weight in my own life. I don’t want to keep thinking that me having diabetes was somehow predetermined by some larger plan. Logically I believe it isn’t. I believe that ailments and unfortunate events simply happen and are outside of our control. I believe that the universe is not out to get me, but its difficult to feel the power inside unless I turn my back on my pre-determinism. Nothing happens for a reason, it simply happens and we chose how to best deal with it. Where we are born is not a punishment for generational sins, but simply a random occurrence. There is a feeling of purpose to this realization and a shift in perspective. This not only affects how we treat ourselves, but how we interact with our environment. We can muster up the courage to take responsibility for our actions, we can take the step to tackle post secondary education when we are in our mid-thirties, we can fight to give our children a better life than they have. We can look at ourselves and others as a work in progress rather than a paint by numbers exercise. We are not born with our stories to live out rigidly, we are born with potential and ability to change and evolve. We are born with the ability to create our own purpose and to grow as humans into an ever-changing identity.
This struggle of existential meaning is not new, nor will it be solved. I’m trying to chose the most helpful thoughts and ideas for my future. It’s important to find connection and meaning in this life. It seems as important as food and water and we cannot ignore that. We can create our own meaning and we can live it out the way we chose without harming those around us who are struggling with the same questions. We have power in this life and we have choice. On a side note, our environment and choices can not only change the way we act and think, it can affect gene expression in our biology and be passed down to future generations. This is exciting in that how I chose to live and what I surround myself with can effectively change who I am. That is a pretty cool thing, no? Answer your own questions and always learn and evolve; living life is not pointless, but it is an adventure and lesson in struggle. Make the best of it.