Existentialism

Existentialism is a deep subject. When we think about the meaning of our life, it is called existential crisis. You are not supposed to be thinking about life and all, you are supposed to go to school, college, office, sing, dance, eat, create offspring, quarrel, and sleep. When you try to think about the bigger meaning of life, it somehow changes the way you see your life. Everything that you do seems meaningless. And so it is called a crisis.

I don’t want to iterate what others have already said about this crisis. Whether you call it a crisis or not, when you think about life and your purpose in this life, it gives you a high level view of everything. When I do it, my mind zooms out of this world and this Universe, and I sit at the edge of the Universe and then try to peep into everything. 

There are several influential people right now, who are alive, whether it is in terms of financial strength or knowledge. There are institutions and leaders who are making decisions that are changing the course of history. But, will these matter after 5,000 years? It may have some impact even after 2,000-3000 years. Similar to the way growth of white supremacy, Christianity, Mughals, and Muslims have been over the past 2000 years . When someone started as Christianity or Islam around 2,000 years ago, nobody thought that the world will fight over it someday. But today it is happening. Will it happen even after 5,000 years from now? Will we fight over these same religions, or there will be new religions to fight for? Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and others are institutions with a purpose. I am seeing the actions and impact of these institutions, perhaps because I am taking a very short timeline. What if I talk in terms of 10,000 years’ range? 

Whatever was started by whoever 10,000 years ago does not exist today. In fact, forget the institutions and businesses, we have significantly moved from using planting sticks to cultivate barley and wheat, this is what humans started 10,000 years ago. On the side note, I find it quite interesting that a single mega religion was once someone’s brain child. He set the wheel in motion and the entire humanity cascaded within it. It can truly be called as a thought that changed the course of our history. And if I talk about artificial intelligence, someone must have thought about it – that whether machines can think like humans – and shared with others, and a new wheel was set in motion. And today we can see myriad developments taking place within all major economies. Everyone is trying to make their version of intelligent machines. Everything that is being done by us was first someone’s brain child. I can confidently say that it just takes one person, just one person to do big things. But, it takes time. Pace of implementation of an idea is less determined by its strength, and more by its contagiousness. A very strong idea can be very slow to spread, but once it spreads, you can count on it to change history. A weak idea can be super-contagious and you can see it spread like a wildfire, but it dies like a fad.

Well. 10,000 years is quite a big timeline to think about my purpose of existence. But, let’s take even a bigger timeline. A billion years. What I do today, will it matter after a billion years? For reference, Earth was formed 4.54 billion years ago. Probably humanity will be extinct by then and Earth will be filled by some other creature that we cannot even dream of. 99.9% of species are already extinct today. There will be no one to fight over religion. No one to fight over petty issues from neighbors. No one to change the course of history with a contagious idea. No leadership to decide the fate of the world, a nation, a society, or an institution. No positive or negative outcome to whatever we are doing today or have done over the centuries. Probably a complete wipe out. Empty. And then some leftover active cells will start new lifeforms.

Then, should I bother about the immediate problems? Should I bother about the life changing goals? Answers can be based on two schools of thought. First, life is short, live to its fullest and don’t worry about anything. Second, life is short and meaningless, why bother to live. Self-annihilation. Both are decisions. You can choose one. 

Maybe you and I can take life as a game where we have one lifeline to play it. You may have played some kind of computer or smartphone games. How does it feel? Fun and exciting. We anticipate challenges and break through every challenge to move to the next level. A game is fun because it is full of challenges. Try playing a car racing game that has no barrier, no competition, no challenge, one button to drive the car, and a straight road. I am pretty sure you will not enjoy it.

So just like a game, I think we should live our life anticipating all sorts of challenges every single day. If we don’t find a challenge, we can change doing what we are doing and do something that puts us in a challenging situation. Anticipating challenges and breaking through it can be the only attitude you can use to get through this life with flying colors. If you dread challenges, cry when something goes wrong, then you are probably doing it wrong. And one thing is quite clear, the world is extremely good at throwing challenges at you. In fact, even if you don’t do anything and hide from everything, life will put you in a challenging situation. If you don’t believe me, try isolating yourself, you will encounter challenges. From starting to isolate yourself to staying in isolation, you will be plagued with all kinds of challenges. You may cry walking up the stairs of your building to reach your room and prefer to take the elevator instead. But, given the opportunity, you may climb a mountain enthusiastically when on a vacation. Both require going up against the gravity, then why the difference in feeling? In one you get terrified and feel tired just from the thought of it, and in other you inflate with some invisible burst of energy. Attitude. How you mentally take things is the key. If I anticipate challenges, I will be free. And so will you.

Published on: November 28, 2020