Wednesday, 02 February 2011
***IF I TAGGED YOU ITS BECAUSE I TRUST YOU TO GIVE HONEST FEEDBACK***
So my professor looked over the rough draft on Tuesday and told me to add more personal elements. I tried but I prefer detachment. The purpose of the assignment is to write a personal, philosophical essay on the meaning of life. As you can see I tweaked it to fit my own sick ideas. Any and all feedback is much obliged and welcome. Mostly what I want to know is if, to an outsider, it's coherent and makes sense and where (if anywhere) it falls through.
Disclaimer: I don't care what you personally believe. I care whether or not the paper is logically constructed well-enough. I'm not trying to be fuckin' Plato here.
The Meaningless Life
"Believe it or not, most of us wanna know why we're here" Nickelback: Believe It or Not. The first time I heard this song I thought Chad Kroeger had it all figured out; or at least he understood that no one has all the answers. Throughout the song he's looking for the meaning of life just like the rest of us. We all want some form of concrete answer, but life isn't so simple. We don't come into this world with a detailed plan of our lives or a manual that gives us a starting point. Everyone has to make his or her own meaning or not; even a life without clear direction still has purpose- the purpose of directionless, aimless wandering.
No one can tell you what to live for. No one can give you the answers that you seek. No one can point you in the right direction and say, "Follow this path until you reach the horizon and there you'll find your dreams." It's up to each and every individual to make up his or her own meaning. Life is relative. Meaning is subjective. Perhaps one day you think you're meant to be a stock broker, and so you plan your life around that career goal. You spend years working towards that goal only to wake up one morning a stock broker and realize you aren't content with life. You don't like the direction you've taken; so you shed the skin of that life, you turn your back on being a stock broker, and you set out to be a painter instead.
Meaning comes from within; it comes from what you value, what you cherish. If family means everything in the world to you, then you're going to spend time around them, and even build your own family. You search for a spouse who has the same intentions in life as you and you buy a house and start pumping out kids. And if you wake up one morning to the baby screaming in the other room and you realize this isn't the direction you wanted your life to take, then you shed the skin of that life and look for something else. The horror of life is that you'll spend all of it searching for meaning- searching for that one thing that makes you whole, that one thing that fulfills you.
The problem with mindless pursuits of happiness is that an individual is really only following flights of fancy- what I want right now. People change, to varying degrees, over time, though not in any way that actually matters to the grand scheme of personality. Today I may want to work for the Federal Bureau of Investiagtion, but tomorrow I may want to be a professional sculptor. Neither of these things will affect my personality in any way- I'm still me, but my daily wants change with the hour. You can set all the goals you want in life, but just because you achieve them (or even if you don't) doesn't mean you aren't guaranteed dissatisfaction. Anyone and everyone you've ever known, or met briefly in life, has had a moment where he or she realized that life didn't turn out according to plan. That moment makes the individual realize that his or her suppossed happiness has been bent on circumstance and unachievable goals.
Perhaps you haven't reached that moment in your life yet, don't worry, you will. It's the grand part of the human condition- we all get to suffer the same discomforts on some level. While your empty misery may never parrellel mine in the same fashion, we may never actually experience the same heartaches, we will suffer the same sense of misery, the same sense of dissatisfaction, the same sense of hopelessness (why else would poetry still be popular in academic circles?). You may not be betrayed by your mother, your own flesh and blood, but someone will betray you. Someone will make you hurt in ways previously unknown to you. Someone will take that thing in your chest that you call a heart and he or she will crush it between his or her own two hands like putty- only the heart isn't so malleable. The human heart isn't silly putty that molds to whatever shape you desire. It's a breathing organism with rules and limitations placed upon it by it's environment. You break that heart and you shatter it like heated glass cooled- glue doesn't fix everything.
The secret is knowing when, how, and why to fight back. When you've been kicked down, beaten, and abused do you keep taking the same punishment? Maybe you think you deserve it, but not at the hands of someone else. If punishment is necessary than take the punishment within your own reasons, not someone elses. Never let another person assume rulership over your life- it's yours for a reason, you were born into it, claim it as your own. How do you claim your life as your own? By creating your own meaning, your own purpose, your own reason and limitations. Set your own standards and live according to them, despite anything and everything anyone else says. Some of the best advice comes from Alkaline Trio frontman Matt Skiba: “Just do whatever makes you happy, no matter what it is and no matter what anybody tells you, follow your dreams and follow your heart, and if your parents are keeping you from doing that, fuck them, they're your new enemies.” Why fight back? How about we ask an even more important question- why not fight back? Do you really want to play the role of submissive dog? I've been there, done that, won't do it again. Rolling over may look cute to the one standing over you but there's nothing cute about exposing yourself to the whims and tortures of a mean master.
Life is a rat-race; we're all trying to get ahead and find that something that fills our empty stomachs so that we no longer feel so hollow. Everyone runs in fear of a meaningless life when they should be settling down inside of it. Most people turn to religion or throw themselves whole heartedly into political causes because they feel like they're making a difference in the world. Most people spend their entire lives striving, searching for that something- the key to contenment (not happiness because happiness is unattainable) is to sit back and watch all the other rats run. If you want to understand the meaning of life then stop chasing impossible goals and dreams; stop planning your entire life around one idea, one career. You today isn't you tomorrow- life is relative, meaning is subjective.
Don't live for a future that may or may not exist. The future is like the horizon or the edge of the earth- untangible. The world we live in isn't flat. There's no way to reach the edge and fall off- no way to finally come face to face with all your hopes and dreams- that perfect future you envisioned when you were fifteen that an older version of you knew was shit. You will never stand at the edge of the world, smiling into the face of the horizon, and see all the answers you sought in life. The only option you have is to stand back and watch life unfold, rolling with the punches, moving with the current. The purpose of life is to understand that there is no purpose; you must make the meaning for yourself by understanding that.
Happiness is a wet-dream- fleeting, ghostly, and leaves you feeling sick, empty, and perverted upon waking. Everyone thinks they want to be happy but what he or she really desires is contentment- that feeling that all the chips have fallen where they may and they couldn't have landed any other way. People want to feel peaceful when they die; they want to be able to look back on their lives and delude themselves into thinking they were happy, by confusing the feeling of contentment with the idiocy of happiness. There's a reason America's founding fathers included "the pursuit of happiness" in the constitution; because honest, genuine happiness doesn't exist. Hence the reason I compare happiness to a wet-dream. That wet-dream will never be a reality. You'll never get the super hot girl or guy that revves your engine like a Ford Mustgang Boss 302. Dreams are dreams because they aren't reality, because they never will be. Somewhere along the way you will settle for the simpler life, the easier job, the steady paycheck. Somewhere along the way you will give up. Life isn't fair and it wasn't meant to be easy, isn't that what everyone is told growing up in America?
Yet, when you've finally reached that moment of despair where you realize nothing has turned out according to plan and you've given up on everything- that's when you start fighting back, that's when you start claiming your life as your own, that's when the punishment becomes yours. That's when you stand up and take charge of what was always yours to begin with but you gave over to the hands of fantasy or someone else because you had no spine to stand on your own. The only way to fight back is to accept the truth- there is no meaning other than what you create for yourself day by day.
When you accept that there is no purpose, no greater cosmic joke, then you can begin settling into your life of leisure knowing that you can't fail and you can't succeed because there's nothing worth striving for that won't leave you in disappointment. The secret is accepting your miniscule fate upon this planet and living life by putting one foot in front of the other everyday. It's a narrow scope on reality at best, I know that, but the greatest thing I've learned in life was how to roll with the punches and focus on what's happening right now. Planning for a future that I may not live to see is pointless. Dwelling on the past that can't be changed only makes me miserable. Living right here, right now, day by day, second by second, that has made all the difference.
Even great musicians, philosophers, and writers are still searching, striving for the meaning of life. They haven't come up with any concrete answers. Maybe I'm wrong, maybe I'm right- the only way you'll know is to give it a shot yourself. Sure, everybody's got their theories, but no one has answers, and they never will because there are no answers (why else would men still be debating religions and politics centuries later?). There's only questions and that nagging sense of self-worth and self-doubt. Each of us must make our meaning by accepting that there is no purpose and then living from day to day the best (or worst if that's what you prefer) way that we can. Contentment can only be found through accepting one's surroundings and limitations and then forming one's own meant-to-be-broken rules.