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 constantly try to add my own personal meaning to the world around me, hence making it liable for me to say that the big story I interact with is existentialism. Existentialism, very briefly, means the world and life have no value, however it is up to each individual person to create their own meaning to their surrounding. 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?” The reader is reminded to take into consideration that everything dies in the end.

Two of the most common misconception about existentialism is that existentialist are depressed people, who are strictly atheists and view the world as meaningless. 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 relating to that community.

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

Since existentialism is the concept of being able to attach a meaning to one’s life almost every big story is relatable to existentialism. One of the big stories presented to us in this unit was “service to others”. As an existentialist one can still find meaning in helping others if it is something that one values. One of the big stories that completely contradict existentialism is nihilism. While existentialism claims that life has no big meaningful picture yet it is still possible to create meaning and purpose, nihilism claims that in fact nothing we will ever do would be meaningful.

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 have questioned my surroundings, purpose, and its relevance toward my life. For instance, lately, I have been baffled by the SAT and its connection to the meaning of life. 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 unfulfilling 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 an “existentialism lens”. Which ultimately proves that neither a person nor an event had led me to this big story, but rather this is how my mind interprets and navigates 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 accomplishing said intension. My next logical step was to combine these two beliefs into one idea, which also happens to be my definition of a good life. This corresponds 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 followed 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 to them. 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. However, this freedom comes at a hefty price which could cost 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 they will never amount to anything. Many people are able to move on from that unstable point of internal voidness and find their own personal meaning to their surroundings. 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 can rattle 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 to one’s, all the accomplishments and meaning one creates will mostly likely be completely and utterly forgotten. If everything that will ever be done will eventually be forgotten it is possible that in fact our own personal meaning holds no value. Since all of our personal meaning has no real value then life ultimately has no meaning regardless of what we do.

I follow existentialism for the precise reason that it’s slightly more comforting than just expecting that life has no meaning. As I stated in my previous paragraph, I don’t think life has any meaning to it. This raises the question of why do I chose to follow existentialism instead of just accepting that life has absolutely no meaning. To me it is impossible to our cornet society with the knowledge that my life has no meaning. I, much like Cypher from the Matrix, chose to live in a false reality because it is so much more comforting to think that I can add meaning to certain things, instead of thinking that there is nothing meaningful in this world. I accept that life has no value yet I acknowledge the fact that I can create some meaning to my surroundings which is encourages enough to continue living.

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. Existentialism allows me to choose what is that I personally value in life without feeling obliged to follow someone else’s instructions. 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 own requirements for finding meaning and purpose.


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2 Responses

  1. Natalie C. says:

    There is no reason for us not to live passionately and authentically just because our surroundings are meaningless, boring, threatening, anxiety provoking, and overall unpleasant. Existentialism seems to be a philosophy of commitment and confronts us with the notion of freedom and the responsibility to it. I believe passion and desire move us to act. Motivation to act is a source of internal human energy that starts our creative engines. Motivation is connected to mood, as these two aspects of human experience affect our ability to act and function. One needs to be in a mood to be motivated to do anything. Mood, or disposition to act, is closely related to emotional state which we experience as internal and uniquely individual. Some people believed that mood is a link between life and thought. We all have a freedom of choice to a certain degree. What does one do with choses that can lead to feelings of guilt?

    You mentioned “Matrix”, and it reminded me of another movie with Keanu Reeves, “Devil’s Advocate” where his character becomes the Devil’s lawyer, and uses his free will to escape the devil’s clutches by choosing death and taking his own life at the end. Freewill was a pass out of this impasse because it allowed Keanu to be the master of his own destiny albeit nihilistic. This story is connected to an idea by a well-known psychoanalyst who once said that “it is better to be a sinner in a world ruled by God, than to live in a world ruled by Devil”. Is this an also an example of existentialism?

  2. 123 says:

    you said that each person has to create there own meaning to life, do you think that this ability to create our own meaning is hindered or benifeited by our inrteractions with other people?

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