Musings on Existentialism on Sunday Night (you know, as one is wont to do)
I define my existence through examination of the world and my place in it rather than ascribing meaning to some divine plan. In contrast to nihilism, though, I do believe that there is meaning in and for all of our lives.
Spending too much time seeing the world exclusively through one’s own filter is a trap. Navel gazing for the sake of navel gazing is not the same as seeking meaning, or even as “being.”
I do not feel compelled to abide by all codes established by society. So many are established by others to make their lives function to what they perceive as being their right. And, more broadly, simply “right.” Other’s needs and filters have equal validity. Or should. Consider: whose codes become the codes even when they appear to be against our nature as free beings, free to exist?
As for these codes, though I resist internally, I often still acquiesce. Perhaps my choice to abide by the strictures established by others is driven by my belief that having organizing principles which we can all generally agree to enables coexistence. Perhaps I wish to avoid pain, and going against the dominant moral code is likely to result in pain (though not necessarily suffering; more later). Perhaps I get little glimpses of the truth behind the “truths” and do not yet know what my role is in pushing against or functioning within.
Recognizing the potential for harm when one’s morality conflicts with another’s is a piece I cannot fully reconcile.
Much of our life is based on how we actively decide to function in any given situation. Choice is a driver; conscious and mindful choice is the preference. Being aware and compassionate are choices, I believe the right ones. But I also recognize that position and status directly impacts one’s ability to choose, and choice may often be a privilege. Those who dwell in the space of scarcity and survival can hardly be expected to be seen as having access to true choice. Those who would argue that even those people can still choose their perception of their condition epitomizes privilege.
The examined life is where I often dwell. Consideration, assessment, evaluation. The impetus to devise meaning; seeking the essence of what it means to be. Landing often on what is, simply is.
Sometimes— for simplicity’s sake — I work to define my beliefs by the negative. It is easier to quantify when working against rather than in favor of a definition. To wit: some would say suffering is our nature, but in contrast I hold as many others have before me, pain is not a choice but we choose to suffer by wishing things were different than they really are. (Again, privilege allows me to focus on this type of suffering rather than survival-level suffering which may involve less choice.)
The complicating factor is that I do believe we have needs, and unmet needs may not be fully by choice. Though even this I question. There may be a visceral level of response to desires and needs that is a part of our essence that may not be so easily tamed/framed through the lens of choice.
Among those needs is connection. Valuing connection may diminish my bona fides as an existentialist. Or it may simply mean that by acknowledging that each of us is driven to define meaning for ourselves, we seek the connection of another in the same way as above I sought to define my view of suffering by defining the negative. I know who I am by knowing who you are, which, by your very existence, proves something that I am not.
It is too reductionist for me to fully believe that as the sole purpose of connection. Instead I am drawn towards the belief that connection is a key part of the big why.
Where does that leave me? As one who believes that we are largely here to be in our truest authentic selves but also cannot place full faith in the role of free will and choice as the key driver of existence? If seeking connection is an end in itself, is a need, but what does that mean in the grand scheme of being? How does this connect to wholeness? In what way does the desire to connect intersects with our essence (which then edges on a discussion of love). What pieces of these musings will enable me to experience the contentment, the freedom that I seek?