“Does it really matter?”
This question pops in minds of people around the world and the various pages spouting platitudes on how to make sense of our lives are testimonial to how important this question to all of us. Well, in all things important let’s see what our old friend Calvin has to say!
Calvin’s musing is an universal feeling that resides within all thinking humans, and especially for humans in this modern age. Once we are freed from our “existence” troubles like the necessities of food, water and shelter- we are left bored. This boredom follows not directly after we have satiated our needs but after a gap of excitement, of a period of sense of control on our lives.
Here we look at the stars and scream “I am Significant”- we use our time to do things that we feel matter. We work hard at our jobs, try to find romantic bliss, maintain contacts and give to charity. I am not claiming that all of us are conceited in these actions, and people do feel a sense of meaningfulness in these actions. We try to be good and be functioning members of society just because.
But if we explore deeper, below the superficial purposes, we find a hidden voice. A cry to the world that we inhabit and are sure to leave one day. This impermanence of our existence collides with our being at one time or other- death of a loved one, a random break-up, or even watching a boy at the train station selling water. This confrontation may not register in our memories but affects us at the sub-conscious level, and defines our living. We all become cognizant of our deaths one day and this creates an anxiety that arouses a clarion call — an assertion of your meaningfulness just as a safety mechanism.
The infinity of stars, the magnanimity of time pales our existence into nothingness. Who are we to feel important when Billions have come before us and have vanquished into the nothing.
But we humans are fighters. We have come this far to the age of anthropocene by fighting, using the tools given to us by evolution to overcome our circumstances. It is literally in our genes to not give up. And we tap this attitude inherent into us to respond to this feeling of nothingness.
We create projects for ourselves to finish and define the meaning of our lives through these projects. These projects are meaningful in different capacities- some would define materialistic value to be meaningful while the other would define social good to be a noble cause worth pursuing. Irrespective, these projects are given meaning just because we want to fight this sinking feeling of nullification. It’s like a water gun to stun us out of the philosophical limbo existential doubt is.
Once we are able to abstract these actions from their inherent value, we register their un-importance in the grand scheme of things. We take a journey akin to the journey buddha took through his kingdom to realise the sadness of life. We feel little beneath the stars, not really sad but stupefied by the experience of an absurdness of this life.
The speck of dust recognises its size and goes on floating randomly in the chaos of life- with remorse, renunciation or repudiation. Helpless. Alone. Not knowing what to do with the empty box.