This article is inspired by some recent discussions with my close friends, and by Peggy Lee’s Is That All There Is song:
So I believe life is inherently meaningless, we attach a meaning to it. Is it simply because we are afraid of dying so we create a meaning to continue living? Is it because we are afraid of the alternative so we keep on deceiving ourselves?
Anyway, I know that I’m afraid of dying, so I created a meaning for myself to enjoy life to the fullest. Personally, that means seeking beauty and knowledge (duh, that’s the tag line of my blog), mainly through music at the moment for its ability to express emotions words cannot come close to describe.
Back to the point! To be fair, I don’t know what will happen after death, no one ever came back to tell their experiences. Now, is that because nothing exists after death, or is it because it is such a heavenly place that no one ever thinks of coming back, or is it just a different experience of continuity but dead people can’t communicate with the people who are still living about it: it is just disconnected without actually being scary? We don’t know. But I know one thing: Since nobody ever goes back from death, we may enjoy whatever life has to offer, since there is only one chance (at least that we all know of) of doing “life”.
When people ask the question “What’s the meaning of life?” there is often another underlying question: “So what am I supposed to do? So what is the right way to live?”
Since I believe that life is meaningless, we simply live because we don’t want to die. The answer to what we supposed to do is clear to me: We should do whatever the hell we want! Or put nicely: We should do whatever that maximizes our happiness during the process of living. It’s that simple! If you are bored of living, trying dying. If you are scared of dying as well, well shit, try living better, then. I went deeper into living or dying in this article on death.
There is one hole to my reasoning so far: what if death is inherently better than life and we just don’t know it (yet). Maybe there is value to dying sooner, rather than living as long as possible, and it is only our brains being irrational with the fear of death. That is the question for us to continue pondering, but until we gather more concrete evidence on that, I know that I’m scared of death, so I will live to the best of my ability.
So Yes! Yes, Peggy, that is all there is to life! In fact, life is so meaningless that nothing actually matters. So what if we achieve fame, wealth, science discoveries for future generations when we become nothingness without conscious (assumption alert!) after dying? We can either perceive the “nothing matters” in a positive light or negative light. When we know that nothing matters, we can sit in the corner of the room waiting for death to creep up on us, or we could do anything to satisfy ourselves, since we know our destinations will always be all the same: death.
You may be grunting: “That’s cool and all, Thien! But you are really the black sheep here, everyone else is against death, against wasting life on meaningless fun.”
Well, a lot of individuals believe in preserving and prolonging human as a species. They would prefer other humans living rather than other humans dying. They would prefer reproducing rather than killing. They would prefer other humans being productive for the society (read: take part in the process of prolonging human species) by creating products for humans, doing businesses with humans, building houses for humans, etc. Again, that is the prolonging-species meaning they made for themselves, the thing they pursue to achieve their satisfaction, whether they admit it or not. People could point to either their religions or the evolution theory or any other explanations to backup their actions, but the very reason they chose to believe in those reasons, which then leads to their actions, is because it satisfies them intellectually. I’m not saying it’s wrong (In fact, nothing is wrong, and nothing is right, those are also just meanings we created for ourselves). Human collectives (read: societies) decided that cooperative is good, and killing is bad for preserving the species. Cool thoughts, let’s formalize it, write that down into some piece of paper, and make sure other humans follow it (read: make that into laws). They are all just glorified beliefs.
What fun! All the rules that you ever know of are fundamentally just suggestions of ways to live. When living in a society, some suggestion can be ignored without much consequence (inside that society), others are not. Those suggestions that comes with punishment otherwise are ways of living that some human force other humans to adopt in order to live in the same society. I’m not saying that I don’t agree with laws against killing, theft… I don’t want to have to watch out for every person who I walk across could murder me or rob me of my properties. But if someone disagrees with those laws on the philosophical level, they either have to suck it up, or have pretty much no place to live in the world at this time.
Side note: I’m actually fine with people doing drugs or indulge in their personal favorite “taboo” activity until they die, if that’s what they want in life. It’s only when they go around under drug’s influence and harm other people, or their favorite activities involve harming others that it becomes a problem for me. Though, it’s quite hard to allow the former and control the latter. I’ll experiment more with that thought at some other time.
So, at a society level, all rules are mere suggestions; at a personal level, all barriers are self-imposed barriers. We accept living in a society, accepting its rule because we either like those rules or can tolerate those rules, in exchange for the benefits we gain from that society. Recommend reading Finite and Infinite Games for more on this topic. It’s a game changer.
“Ok, that’s some deep stuff, Thien. But how does it apply to me?”
I’m not telling anyone what’s the right thing to do. You are the one who decide what’s the right thing to do for you, stressing the right thing to do for you and yourself only. This is because you and I both certainly don’t know what the others want and need in life. Now, that right thing could be continue living just the way it is now, living better, or discontinue living. I’m in no place to judge. Plus, knowing that all rules are just suggestions, all barriers are self-imposed barriers, you are absolutely free to pursue that life meaning you decided for yourself.
Tada, now you have as much knowledge about life as I do! And if you so choose, go enjoy the beauty of life! I can’t resist taking the opportunity, haha. Throw tomatoes at me if that pleases you, but I’ll just catch ‘em and eat ‘em.