an existential crisis (2)

It has escalated. And as a fellow human being, I care about you and want you to understand this. Everything.

I had an experience recently which brought my entire past to the surface, emotionally. It made me realize the immensity of things that I need to stuff down every day in order to function normally. And that hasn’t been working out so well for me anyway, as many of us already know. And now, I think it’s time to acknowledge the fact that I simply don’t belong here. I never did. I actually have no idea how I’ve made it this long.

But this is really not what’s important right now. What’s important is the underlying mechanism of this epiphany…

Life, for anyone, is full of pleasures and pains. And, for some of us, the pain that we feel far outweighs the pleasure. Perhaps, for us, pleasure cannot even be felt. It’s strange, really, because at the same time you know it can. You know that you have the capacity to feel it – in great quantity in fact. But there is always something in your environment which keeps that pleasure outside of your grasp: obstacles, setbacks, lies, illusions, unknown truths.

I do believe that many of these creations are rooted in the egos of others. And understandably so – we live in a world where we must compete for our sense of security. That is it, really. What everyone truly wants and needs in life. Security. That, which is constantly masked by the names of all those “things” that we say we want: a house, car, clothes, makeup, pets, a lover, the freedom to have several lovers. Things, which bring to us even a momentary sense of security. Things, which we may come to acquire through the use of our ego – by creating obstacles, setbacks, lies, and illusions for others. We do it in various ways, many of which we may not be consciously aware of. Regardless, the result is, inevitably, our own pain – as a result of the inauthenticity that our ego has manifested for us.

The solution to this problem has been taught for centuries in eastern philosophy, and now in the west, as “mindfulness.” The premise is, essentially, that desiring things is the cause of pain, and therefore, to avoid pain, we must not seek pleasure. Furthermore, the way to do so is by consciously engaging ourselves in the present moment, and nothing else. There is security in that. After all, the ego only provides one with a false sense of security – because it is merely a mask to that which is actually you; your authentic self. So to attain true security, one must be his or her authentic self, in the moment. Somehow.

And herein lies a new problem: we live in a world where this has been made impossible. We would be happy contributing to society but at the same time we would also like to know that our livelihood, as it is, would still be preserved in the events which we are not. Of course we know that cannot be the case, however (i.e. taking time off of work results in a lack of one’s pay and puts one at risk of losing their job entirely), and therefore life in the modern world requires constant action. Because every moment of inaction comes at a cost. So we are, quite literally, trapped – in a state of action.

Acting authentically, conversely, requires periods of inactivity; rest and recuperation. Because one does not do anything authentically when he or she does not actually wish to be doing it. And no one wishes to be doing the exact same thing at every minute of every day.

Furthermore, authentic action must be primitive. Because primitive action puts one in a state of mindfulness – what would allow you to be more mindful than building your own home, foraging your own food, creating your own possessions, or caring for your own children? When you are actually using your own creativity and passion, rather than existing as a machine to bring someone else’s vision to life. This mechanical action, otherwise known as work, that we must engage in is not authentic. It does not support one’s livelihood directly, but rather through a channel; a system, which promises to support one’s livelihood for him or her (and often fails to do so at that). So there is no guarantee that your hard work will even pay off. You have no true security.

Even furthermore, there are different routes which one can take, different forms of mechanical action – so many in fact that we have become accustomed to option paralysis; a state of action which is disguised as inaction. This is because the vast array of options available have made individuals worry that they are not pursuing the action which is most authentic to them, making the state of mindfulness even more difficult to achieve.

So life itself, in society, is a trap – a trap of meaningless, constant action. This trap is a subjective one though, really. Some people feel less trapped than others. those are the ones with more social support and resources. The types of action which these individuals must engage in are less crucial to their survival than that of others. Nevertheless, research in psychology shows us that the pain felt from our losses is essentially equal.

And that brings us back to the question of the meaning of life – why live, if pain and suffering are inevitable? Why live if life… is a trap?

Well, for me personally, I have realized that the path to overcoming the creations of the ego and finally feeling pleasure may be one that I have already passed in life. The path that I am walking down right now has become unbearably painful. And it will be so until this problem can be resolved. Until myself and my comrades are able to live meaningfully and authentically. Until society collectively learns how to transcend the ego, and modify that which keeps us trapped – Into a system that gives us purpose. True, authentic purpose. A system that gives us the autonomy to live a life of meaning.

I do not know the answer
I do not know how we will get there
But I do hope
that through my words
I may inspire a reader
who is wise and skilled enough
to figure it out

Until then
I will be waiting
with nothing but my thoughts
fingers on a keyboard
a bottle of wine
and a reserve of pills
For the right moment
For life to finally become
so unbearably painful
that my continuous action
decidedly becomes
my permanent inaction