We all die. That's not a very inspiring quote but it's true. It's also a realization in the past year that finally struck home for me. You hear it over and over but it didn't actually sink in each time previous, the way it did this past year of my life. We all lose the "game of life." No one comes out a winner because there's a finite time we get to spend on this planet. I know this sounds like a total bummer but it's fundamentally changed how I approach everything in life now.
If you take a step back and truly evaluate what it all means, you'll certainly come to your own conclusions. For me the conclusion is, "everything is made up and nothing matters in the end." Now stay with me, I promise my outlook isn't as depressing and dire as that statement may seem. This notion actually freed me from anxiety and stress regarding the existential question of life. So many people dedicate their lives worrying and trying to figure out why we are here. For me that's not a concern in the slightest. There is no meaning or reason and thus I can just relax. Truly kick back, take a breath, and relax.
Now before I go on I will point out several things that give me this freedom. I realize I'm very fortunate to have been born a caucasian male in the United States and in the late twentieth century. The chances of that happening are astronomical. I could have just as easily been born into vastly different circumstance. A different gender, a different race, in a different country, at a different time and even a different socioeconomic class. I have the luxury of being able to not worry about where my next meal is going to come from, whether I'll be deported for just going outside or if I'll survive another cold night on the streets. I'm fully aware that having the ability to not stress about life is very much predicated in these facts of who I am and how my situation has allowed that to occur. I wish everyone had the ability to grow up in such a privileged world as I have gotten to experience.
With that said, I'll move on to how I came to this realization. Through all the change that's happened recently, I've been able to find a profound sense of calm. A little over the past year I've lost two grandfathers, went through a break up, changed jobs, visited five countries, and attended four weddings. It's certainly not the quantity of things that happened to me but rather the quality of them. Regardless of being for better or worse, the deeper the meaning each event had, the greater each affected me.
I've written previously about the self introspection that I've done over the years. It's played a tremendous role of who I've become and continue to grown into. Part of that process was growing through experiences, advice from those close to me as well as wisdom from podcasts, books and elsewhere. I love hearing other people's stories of how they got to where they are, why they think what they do, and why they believe in what they do. Hearing about other people's journeys and points of view allows me to see a different perspective which I try to incorporate daily as much as I can. It helps me to get out of my own head in order to try and experience the world with other people in mind. I'm here to do what I can to ultimately be a good person. I want to exude joy and happiness so that others can absorb it themselves and pass it on. I want to believe in humanity and the goodness in people, even when the times seem so dire as they do in today's political climate. I mention this because it took me understanding other people and less significant life realities before I could absorb my own "meaning of life."
Trying to comprehend the size and scope of the universe is nearly impossible. The same holds true with taking a step back and looking at life as a whole. It's equally as difficult to take in. We're the only living beings aware of our own consciousness and mortality. That can be too overwhelming for many people and rightfully so as it's a scary concept to accept. Knowing this however has allowed me to stop trying to stress about what I can't control. I can't control my own mortality. No one can. So I've decided to laugh at it and move on. Not in a "why even exist then" kind of mindset but rather a "relax, enjoy the journey" kind of way.
It's really difficult for me to accurately portrait the feeling of that freedom. I wish we could share feelings by actually absorbing them instead of me telling you about it. Why feel anything less than important when you have full control over how you feel? Why stress about something little when you're not even going to remember it a month later, let alone a year or 10 years later? Everyone around you is in the same bucket. If you're able to actually step into their head, you'd find out they are just as unsure as you. They weren't conscious before they were born either. They, like everyone else, knows just as little as you do.
Breath. Smile. Be confident. We all die anyways :)