Friday, June 17, 2016

Session I'm Too Lazy To Check What Number

"So, when we last met," Thera said, "we were talking about nihilism and finding a purpose in life."

"You can't." I said.

"You can't what?" she asked.

"You can't find a purpose to life.   There isn't one."


Thera, short for therapist because it is not my place to use her real name, is quite good at leading questions and I have never learned so much about myself from someone in my life.

"Life has no purpose other than life," I said.   "It is without meaning and is basically, in essence, pointless."

"You talked about a bumper sticker..."

"The meaning of life is to give life meaning."

"Yes," she continued.  "So what does that mean to you?"

"That life is inherently meaningless and it is up to us to give it meaning."

"So it can have meaning then?"

"No.   Like perfection, it should be strived for, but can never be attained, but in the end most things are random and therefore rather pointless really."

"But you value life?   You spoke before about going through things to preserve life.  It must have value."

"My life has value to me and to a small circle of people of course, but in the grand scheme of things very few of us really matter and even those effects are short-lived.   If I died tomorrow, my friends and family would mourn for a while and always miss me, but life would go on.   It is, in the end, pointless.   Of course I could be totally wrong."

"I want to stay on this for a moment," she said.   "You said pointless and meaningless to define life, but you also said you value it."

"Yes, but I also see a difference between pointless and meaningless."

"How so?"

"Something that is pointless can never have value while something that is meaningless can.   It is extrinsic vs intrinsic values: a pointless thing never has either while a meaningless thing can have intrinsic value, but both have no extrinsic value."

"I'm not sure I'm following you."

"Take Don Quixote."


"As I remember the story, Don Quixote was just a guy on a mule jousting windmills, but in his head he was a brave knight fighting giants to defend his one true love.   His actions were pointless: he was never going to win his love or kill the giants as neither existed nor was he ever going to defeat a windmill from atop a mule, but they were not meaningless.   They gave his life meaning and were of the utmost importance to him.   It was pointless to all and meaningless to all, but him.

"My life," I continued,"is meaningless to the grand scheme.   It is pointless.   Today, on my way to work, I had to park far away from my office because someone decided to get into a gun fight with the police and lost.   Their life, aside from making me park further away from my office was meaningless and pointless.   He will be mourned by some and his death celebrated by others, but 99.9% of us will never even know his name."

"And this bothers you?"

"It used to.  It didn't before cancer while I was still immortal, but it did after.   I had a hard time finding a value in the meaningless and the pointless.   Everything had to either be striving towards something or in response to something and all that was lost.   A random life devoid of purpose means the goals are illusions and the memories just that."

"And now?"

"I am learning to live in the now.   I am learning to live not for the memory or for tomorrow, but for the moment.   I am trying to enjoy what I have now because I know tomorrow is not a promise and yesterday is gone.   It has taken cancer and chemo-brain to teach me this, but I think I am learning it."

"And how does your nihilism fit into this new outlook?"

"It is liberating to be honest.   If life is without meaning or purpose, then I can stop worrying about tomorrow and simply be.   You can drive yourself mad worrying what if and trying to find patterns to everything which I used to do.    You tell yourself you misread the patterns when things don't work out as you thought they should rather than realizing it is just random and those few times things sync up are just simply a few times some really cool shit happened to you and nothing more. "

This is of course not a verbatim of my last session, but is in essence a fictional account of our actual discussion and the things I said here are as close to my actual answers as I can recall.

4 comments: said...

once again amazing . . . Living in the moment; Letting go of our illusions; breaking thru into the NOW! Sweet words of wisdom. Thank you for sharing. said...

More thoughts . . . If you never wrote another word these words would stand alone by itself. There's much there inbetween the lines.

Nietzsche, the father of nihilism' once said "G-d is Dead"; you say "Life has no purpose; it is meaningless and pointless". And yet Nietzsche, some say, was not talking about G-d specifically but rather people's faith in G-d which was dead. Nihilism comes into play as people use the existence of G-d to perpetuate a false narrative about their own spirituality. I see the same essence in what you say: Life is meaningless until we give it meaning by letting-go of our illusions and living in the NOW. I feel like this could be is your "What's the sound of one hand clapping moment . . .?" The answer is: there is no answer. I definitely think you're on the right track or your're already there.

Thanks again for sharing . . .

joanie78 said...

I am enjoying your discovery and the you , you are said...

I think maybe there's a book in here somewhere . . . Inbetween the lines. "BEYOND ILLUSION: A Survivors Guide for the Perplexed" or something like this. If I'm getting what you say: There appears to be a transformational component associated with living in the NOW. A fundamental differentiation between the old self and the new. It all seems to hinge on our willingness to face our own illusions and transcend the limitations of our old beliefs. You've made powerful observations about how cancer played a role in this discovery about yourself. Is there more? I appreciate your perspective. Thank you.