A lovely bit of cabin fever


Part 1: Describing my Big Story

What is the primary big story in which I play the role of my life?

Throughout my brief and continues existence I have noticed that I have been following a particular set of believes that apply specifically to me. These said believes all indicate that I add my own personal meaning to the world around me, hence making it liable for me to say that the big story I enact in is existentialism. Existentialism, in a very brief explanation, is that the world and life has no value, however it is up to each individual person to create their own meaning. An even more simplified, and poetic, explanation of existentialism is the poem A Summer Day, by Mary Olive. The narrator of the poem challenges the reader to “Tell me [the narrator], what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” while taking into consideration that everything dies in the end.

Two of the most common misconception about existentialism is that existentialist are depressed people who view the world as meaningless, and that existentialist are strictly atheists. While existentialists do think that there is no pre-determined meaning to life, such as an afterlife, they do believe that everyone has a right to choose their own meaning in ways that are relevant to them. Many existentialists chose to find meaning by joining a religion, not because they were told to but because they found a deep spiritual connection.

How does that big story compare and contrast with other big stories?

Since existentialism is being able to create a meaning to one’s life almost every big story is relatable to existentialism. One of the big story presented to us this unit was service to others. As an existentialist you can still find meaning in helping others if it is something they value. One of the big stories that completely contradict existentialism is nihilism. Nihilism claims that not only does life have no value but in fact nothing we will ever do will add any meaning to it.

What led me to this role and this story?

For me there has never been a pivotal moment in my life that made me realize that I am a part the “existentialism big story”. My whole life I had questioned my surrounding’s purpose and its relevance toward my life. For instance lately I have been baffled by the SAT and its purpose. I know that the SAT allows students to get into college, which would than possibly allow them to have a stable job and earn money; this raises the question of is getting a stable job what people want from life? To me this seems a very shallow and un-fulfilling purpose, which makes me not want to take the SAT so much more, however I do acknowledge that other people find meaning in this goal. This is just an example that illustrates how I constantly view my surroundings through “existentialism lenses”. Which ultimately proves neither that a person or an event had caused me to interact with this story, but rather this is how my mind interprets the world around me.

Part 2: Implementing my Big Story

According to the big story I’ve been enacting, how should I live?

Existentialism asks people to live their life with the idea that life has no value, but instead each person has to create their own meaning and chose how they want to live their life. However, many people sometime struggle with finding their own personal meaning which causes them to feel as if they are aimlessly moving thorough life.

My definition of a good life is having a purpose which will allow me to enjoy as many of my living days as possible. Since I view life as a clock ticking toward our inevitable termination, I believe that the best way to live is by enjoying those ticking moment. This is not to say that one should appreciate everything that surrounds him or her, but rather one should filter what he or she values out of the dunes that is one’s life. I also believe that as people we tend to enjoy creating scenarios in which we began by having an intension, pour as much of our efforts into getting that intension accomplished, and eventually finish accomplish said intension. My next logical step was to combine these two believes into one belief, which also happens to be my definition of a good life. This is corresponding to the basic ideas of existentialism, because in both cases people are encouraged to find meaning in their life regardless of what will happen when they die.

Special requirements

Existentialism asks people to reject any notion that life has a predetermined fate to be fallowed and fulfilled, while also accepting the fact that each individual person can create his or her own personal meaning to help them live their life in a way that is fulfilling. This comes with the benefit that it allows people to have the free will to choose how they want to live their life without being restricted by predetermined requirements that have to be fulfilled. However, this freedom comes at a hefty price which could cause one’s mental happiness. Most people are used to viewing their life as if it is one consecutive story leading toward a definite ending. Many people feel as if everything they have known has been completely shattered when they realize that life is not a story but in fact just the passage of time. This realization makes it difficult to find the motive to accomplish anything because that accomplishment doesn’t amount to anything. Many people are able to move on from that unstable point of internal voidness and find their own personal meaning. However, others end up stuck in a limbo of emptiness and lack of motivation. Having to accept the idea that in fact life has no meaning is the hefty cost of living a existential life because it shakes people’s mental happiness.

Part 3: Questioning my Big Story
What are some standard questions that people who don’t practice my big story ask to expose complexities, cartoonification, and contradiction?
What other aspects of my big story seem questionable (too simple, too complex, contradictory?)
Should I rethink my participation in this story?

Many people view existentialism in an over cartoonified light which just states that life is without any meaning. However, this is so much of simplification that it muddles the actual explanation of what is existentialism. Existentialism is the acceptance that life will have no meaning until someone creates one for them self.  However, this philosophy raises the paradoxical self-contradictory that since life amounts to nothing, people’s own personal meaning in fact have no value. Since there is no after life or a big conclusion, all the accomplishments and meaning one creates throughout his will mostly likely be completely and utterly forgotten. If everything that will ever do will eventually be forgotten it is possible that in fact our own personal meaning hold no value. Since all of our personal meaning have no real value then life ultimately has no meaning regardless of what we do.

The precise reasons as to why I fallow the big story of existentialism because it is the most comforting while still being the most realistically reasonable big story. The majority of people’s life is centered around the idea that we all have to on keep living for as long as possible. Many people motives for continuing to live is that in fact they are living out a personal story that they have to fulfill. To me this thought that every single person has an individual story is ludicrous, because we are just a small sample of the whole universe. However, to me it is impossible to live a life in our cornet society with the knowledge that my life has no meaning. Instead I choose to find the best suitable compromise for a reason as to why I should continue living. I accepted that life has no value yet I acknowledge the fact that I can create my own personal meaning allowing me to have a reason to keep staying alive.

I personally think that I should not alter my big story. Existentialism encourages me to keep on finding meaning in life regardless of how much of an insignificant being I am. I am also able to choose what is that I personally value in life without feeling obliged to follow someone else’s instructions. Personally I do not want to feel committed to one set of belief that was made toward a generalized group of people; I want to live a life where I can determine my values and believes so they apply to me personally. Existentialism, for me, is the perfect mind set which allows me to fulfill my requirement.


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4 Responses

  1. Hello there Mohr. Let me begin by congratulating you on having the guts to give meaning to nothingness. After all, is that not the incarnation of existentialism? Other than some minor grammatical errors, the piece flowed quite well and came off as quite eloquent.
    My only concern arose from the lack of emphasis on the hedonistic nature of existentialism. Also the “questioning my big story” section seemed to imply that you were settling for existentialism.
    Don’t you think you should follow the truth?
    If life has no meaning, how can we make meaning, your statement on paradox seems only to contradict your belief system.
    I’m not telling you to believe what I believe, or to change who you are, but I think if you dug a little deeper into your mind, you may come up with something that sounds less strained.

    • Mohr says:

      Thank you for the comment. To respond to your two questions at the end I understand why it may seem paradoxal trying to adding meaning to a meaningless life, however I proably have not properly explained that I am not trying to give life meaning but rather add meaning to what’s around me. Also I don’t think I clarified properly that I find it hard to find motive to do anything with the knowledge that in the end everything I do adds up to nothing. Hence I chose to live in denaile.

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