Man likes to fancy himself to be at the top of the food chain based almost solely on the fact that he has this big brain and whatnot. Never mind the fact that if you toss most of us against any animals, we’d end up as a pile of feces on the forest quite quickly. And that is (generously) assuming we don’t freeze to death or die eating the wrong mushroom before we even get a chance to dabble with fighting the local fauna. Some facets of life have been a hard study for me, but I learned not to make the aforementioned assumptions fairly early on in life.
This isn’t me being a curmudgeon. I’m not afraid that my life will be all for nothing. Rather, I’m afraid that this will be all for nothing – the writing the philosophizing, the exploration of the human mind with my focus on existentialism.
My nihilist bent.
When time is winding down, there really is no way to predict how I’ll act in that moment. The moment when the music stops. I freely admit the the thought of facing death and caving might be the last true remnant of my existential dread. It fucking terrifies me.
One of the bigger ironies is that we place so much stock in the virtue of the hero, yet, by and large, we are ridiculous and cowardly. This entire concept was the foundation of much of Ernest Becker’s work. I’m no anthropologist, but I’d have to speculate that most primitive humans weren’t exactly shining examples of heroism, especially considering that we probably wouldn’t be here if taking excessive risk and bold, fearless action was programmed into our genetic code.
Really, it’s survival of the fittest, and based on the factory equipped model of Homo Sapiens, I’d be willing to wager that “fittest”, in this case, involves those who were best at running, hiding, and generally getting out of Dodge when the shit hit the fan. Perhaps that was the birth of the hero projects, as Becker calls them.
Our well-meaning attempts to leave a lasting mark on a planet that couldn’t care less that we are here.
Our feeble attempts to convince ourselves and, yes, sometimes those around us, that the above sentence is true…regardless of the cost.
As I’ve spoken about before, much of my zoning out and daydreaming, as far back as I can remember, revolves around me being someone I’m not. And that person is heroic. Or anti-heroic. Or, really anyone stronger and better and bolder and braver than I am.
The voice in my head that screams these articles onto the page is that person that I want to be. For me, it is words. For others, art. For others, sport.
We even live it out in video games. In the Witcher series, King Bran lives to be an old man, and when he begins to feel the wasting, soul-suckling power of time he does things on his own term. He goes off into the wilderness to square off with a grizzly bear.
With just a knife.
Even a king can’t avoid the ceaseless forward march of time.
And yet again we see the romanticized fight in all of us. That fear not just of death, but of impotence, of wasting. Bran didn’t want to wither away, a powerful king reduced to a feeble old man. Why just burn out when you can be a harsh spark and scream your resistance in the black, formless face of the inevitable? Why just lie down and accept it?
Part of me would like to think I wouldn’t shit myself until after I expired, but I’m really not so sure it wouldn’t be in the breaths before.
I’m not worried about dying. My father always had this existential dread, and I found it interesting that one could just waste so much time fretting over the futility of trying to live forever. Not going to lie: I spent a fairly significant amount of time, myself, worrying about it. Not sure when I moved on from it. I still do occasionally find myself pontificating about the shocking fact that I’m probably halfway through my lifespan…and then…nothing.
A lot of it abated when I was rock-bottom and terribly suicidal. There’s probably something to be learned there if I looked hard enough.
Death, really, isn’t the issue. From a logical standpoint, even if death is the end all be all, you won’t even know it. Because you would be dead. This isn’t rocket science.
Rather the problem lies with our general inability to conceptualize that one day our consciousness will cease to be. Listen, I’m human, so the existential dread still slaps me upside my head every now and then, so I get it. In those moments when we are really pulling out our hair over the thought of kicking the bucket, what’s really eating at us is this incredible disbelief that, inevitably, we will cease to be.
I’m actually chuckling as I write this because it is so terribly self-important as to be comical.
In some of my longer philosophical pieces, I take my inherent existentialism to the max by pointing out that even trying to leave our mark (The hero project) is useless because eventually the sun will run out of gas, turn into a red dwarf, and bye bye Earth.
That’s right. There won’t even be marked place left.
And your worried about your mark?
My only residual concern is that I can be genuinely authentic when the time comes and not go back on all the shit I preached. And I just don’t know if I will…nor will I, until the time comes.
Will I freak out?
Will I scream at a god that doesn’t exist?
Will I beg?
Or will I really be heroic?
That person in my head, the one who is behind the curtain REALLY writing this. would be a legend. He’d raise his middle finger to the sky, smile, talk about how he did the best he could while he was here in a place he never asked to be born into in the first place.
He’d laugh at last-minute religious conversion attempts.
He’d tell everyone to kiss his ass.
He’d take that last blast of morphine.
And he’d die.
But I don’t know if I’m ready to be that person when the music stops.