When one reaches a certain age, that in between age when one is not young but not old, a crisis usually ensues. From the Greek word, κρίσις, it is a moment when a decision must be taken, and an old system must be immediately replaced with a new one. I believe that for some people, there are small moments of crisis that fade in and out of our lives, but they are universally experienced by all.
In that crisis, one must decide which path they are going to take in life: the superficial path or the meaningful path. On our time line, the crises are scattered, small specks. In that speck lives a moment of lucidity, when one looks at the world to ask: “everything will break down, all beauty fades, nothing lasts forever, and do we really own anything in this world?” Those thoughts have been washed, rinsed, bleached, and hung out to dry in my mind more times than I can count. For many people these moments are grand, defining moments in their lives. For me, they are just little footprints I leave in the sand; waiting for the ocean will wash them away forever.
Existential dilemmas such as these are natural events that occur among most people. If a person has not had a few of them in their life, then there is something wrong. They happened to me a lot when I was in my early teens. For the most part, they came and went throughout my early adulthood.
The question is, how do we deal with it, when these defining moments rear their ugly heads? It is a speck of time when one’s true colors are revealed, it is a defining moment and it is important. It is a moment one must act properly, because how we handle a crisis is how we will be remembered.
Lazy Thinker: a person can be lazy and decide that some supernatural deity loves them, is their best friend, and has answers to things they are not supposed to know. I would say that kind of thinking is a mixture of lazy and coward.
Critical Thinker: life is meaningless unless I prescribe meaning to it. What kind of meaning do I want to give the temporal world? Let’s think on it some more….
Existential crisis happen to 90 percent of thinking adults. Unfortunately, only a small number of those use the opportunity wisely. Many people consider existential philosophy is abstract and irrelevant to modernity. Philosophical jargon, like any kind of jargon, lead people feel like they do not belong to ‘that’ world. I am here to say that even if you do not get the jargon, that is okay because as a human being, you still experience the same existential dilemmas that every other human animal faces. We all belong in existentialism and to existentialism: knowing the jargon is not necessary.
We live in a world where people are consumed with appearances. They want to create the appearance of wealth and success, at any cost. Coins in casinos clink, neon lights flash, and women put on red lipstick. We have music, light shows, cars, clothes, commercials, it never ends. IPhones, I pads, televisions, computers, games, it never stops. The consumption just keeps growing to the point where individuals are defined entirely by the outside world, and the impression they leave upon others. We live in a world of smokescreens, mirrors, and mindless materialism. The challenge is being able to live authentically, and not get sucked into anything. The things that suck people in are infinite: clothing, cars, technology, love, sex, beauty, religion, and politics just to name a few. It is like we are at the bottom of a swimming pool, looking up at the world through the thin pane of water separating the water from the world where we belong.
According to existential philosophy, a lack of authenticity is nothing short of fraud. What is most difficult is that human nature drives us to conform like a herd of trusting, blind, sheep being led to the slaughter.
I am going to leave with this thought, and revisit it at another time. How did we get into this mess? And how, can we start caring more about each other instead of accumulating piles of materialistic crap?