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Prodding existential crises

When my internal dialogue slips into the negative realm (of despair), I believe its the best opportunity to prod myself with mental enquiries: why is life “life”? What do you want to do with your existence? Does it matter anyway? I suppose I am torturing myself, but it returns some of the best insights into my life. I am fortunate enough to be capable of doing so. I have close relationships to individuals who wouldn’t prod themselves in the same way. To them, their anxiety disorder or diagnosed depression could be worsened via further negative thoughts. I suppose this is true, I am inclined to test out the outcomes of their hypothesis on them, but I care for them too much to pressure them either way.

I provoke my existentialism like fire. On occasion it burns me, or perhaps scares me, but often I’m in awe of its appearance. I have a strong mental state – it rarely wavers.  My outlook on my existence is daring and hopeful, as I am training to make the biggest impact I can. Bare with me as I bolster an image of strength, of optimism, and happiness in my life – before I detail a rather crude perspective on life in general. Life is good.

Except

Life is overall negative, at least it seems that way. I’m not suffering, at least not comparative to others (I’m a privileged white male). But I retain the outlook that life is suffering, it’s sad, pessimistic, and hard to deal with. Life by default is negative, a quality I’ve learnt that philosophical thinkers of antinatalism share. When I mean life, I don’t mean simply your interactions with life, I mean the slither of life that’s cut from an infinite slab of atoms. The unknown before and after makes me fell dull about the opportunity life offers. Like the hand of a (father) god came down and handed me a single penny “Don’t waste it all, kid.” Between these unknowns is a greater opportunity for misery, the balance of joy and fear is unbalanced. As unhappy a conclusion this may seem, I am rather happy with life. I do not deny that life contains beauty, that life itself is fascinating. But to have lived or not to have lived – I lean towards not. I don’t have suicidal thoughts – I explore the idea of how I might die: the implications, the process, the feeling, the hypothetical nothing. But I do not desire it. On the contrary, I repulse the idea of death – as much as its mystery fascinates me it also makes me screw up my hands and shout fuck you.

I do not want death, not for myself nor for anyone. But life, life is haunting and brutal. I can focus on the positives, I can do good, I intend to help, and change the world for the better (at least better in terms of living). But only my actions and others are positive. Everything else is bleak and suffering. Death is the ultimate conclusion of “Why bother”. Why do I continue to bother, I haven’t truly discovered. For now bothering to change the world makes me happy.

***

With this bleak backdrop to life, understanding my purpose in life, my relationships, my feelings, and existence itself, throws me into weariness. Not as much as some might, but it does affect me. I’m not a depressive person, but lingering in the grounds of existence leads to micro-crises. Daily bouts of anxiety and doom, depressed thoughts that ring internally loud and clear. My fortune is they rarely affect my external interaction with life. However once I hear the ringing of a micro-crisis I ring it louder and louder. So far, my mental state has been stable enough to withstand the provocation of my crises. It may be dangerous, I’m not sure – but it feels like handling a dangerous animal; its danger is beautiful. My curiosity is to see how one thought might affect it over another. I learn more from prodding my inner quarrels, letting some fall away into the known and others to snap out. Is this how most philosophers feel? After introspective queries they must emerge tired and bleak.

After my recent bout of a micro-crisis, it’s fitting that I came across an article by Venkatesh Rao advocating mid-life crises: freak out early and freak out often (FEFO). Some of Rao thoughts lead to big picture perspectives, and acknowledging the insignificance of your story. But I felt that Rao intended these conclusions to be positive, that ultimately the more FEFOs you endure the stronger your outlook is. Read it, it’s a good. The same perspective I came away from his article I intend to express (poorly) in this article.

***

So I am fine. I am fine with torturing myself. I am fine with life. I am fine with existence, until the next freak out.

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