Accept your nihilism and learn to live with it

Photo by Lucia Lau

Look up at the night sky, embrace the cosmos and notice the millions of tiny little dots that blanket the sky.

Realize that each one of those dots could very well be a sun to a new set of planets, many of which hold the potential of harbouring life.

Now, realize that these are only the dots you can see from where you’re standing; the universe appears to be infinite and therefore there are — in turn — an infinite number of planets.

With the incomprehensible size of the universe, it’s hard to say that there isn’t alien life somewhere out there with a straight face; especially considering NASA’s firm belief that it’s very likely life has cropped up on several planets in our galaxy alone.

With our existence being so proximate to other planets and galaxies, where does that leave us — human beings — in terms of significance? More specifically, where does that leave you — the individual — in terms of importance?

The answer is harsh: you don’t technically matter to the cogs that keep the universe running.

In that vein, you are insignificant.

I am insignificant. Your parents, teachers and friends are insignificant and you best believe your future kids will be insignificant too.

But just because we’re too small to matter in the grand scheme of things, does that mean there is no pertinent purpose?

Nihilism is the belief that life and morals are meaningless. As scientific discovery propels our knowledge of our position in the universe forward, more and more people — particularly millennials — are adopting this ‘pointless’ perspective on life itself.

Scientific discoveries are made about the universe, the internet make this information easily accessible to the population and finally, slowly — but surely — the popular opinion begins to shift from folks believing Earth was ‘made for humans’ to having them conclude that the Earth is simply a rock floating through space.

A rock that just so happens to contain a large group of primates, who happened to evolve brains competent enough to comprehend and categorize their daily collective experiences.

However, this concept of ‘meaningless life’ is not a new perspective. In the early 20th century, philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche expressed his fears about the potential dangers of nihilism.

Feelings of happiness, love and belonging all help us realize our own purposes, and – through a nihilistic lens – god and society are not needed to inform us on the importance of these feelings.

He assumed that if one held the opinion that all moral, metaphysical and religious ideologies had no distinct purpose, the individual would acquire a sense of independent morality that would ultimately lead to degeneracy.

If one didn’t fear being judged by a god or society, what’s to stop that person from bending their own morals and committing crimes against society to suit their own selfish interests?

Today, however — with a rise in popularity of nihilistic perspectives — we are beginning to see an increasingly positive version of the outcome Nietzsche once feared.

Without believing in a set of cemented, moral guidelines, one can live their life any way they see fit — so long as it doesn’t infringe upon the law.

If I decided that — instead of building a life with someone and having a few kids — I wanted to pursue a career as a chef, I wouldn’t feel as though I was letting myself, or society, down by not following an inherent, socially constructed sense of purpose.

Instead, I’ve created my own purpose from scratch. Hopefully one that will give my life meaning and happiness.

In this scenario, it doesn’t matter how insignificant my life is in the grand scheme of things.

It doesn’t matter that I’m just one person on one rock in one galaxy out of the infinite people on infinite rocks in infinite galaxies.

Why should it even matter if I’m living life on my own terms and enjoying myself?

So long as I am not harming others of course.

Feelings of happiness, love and belonging all help us realize our own purposes and — through a nihilistic lens — god and society are not needed to inform us on the importance of these feelings.

You don’t need someone else to tell you that you are leading your life correctly.

At the end of the day, only you can make that call.

Leave a Reply