¨We do not pray for immortality, but only not to see our acts and all things stripped suddenly of all their meaning; for then it is the utter emptiness of everything.¨ - Antoine de saint-exupery

Although there is a certain emptiness that comes with realizing one’s own mortality, people must overcome this emptiness to find a purpose.

"This has been said so many times that I'm not sure if it matters"

The more times something is redone, the less interesting and unique it is. Often repetition is seen as annoying, and no one wants to listen to anything after it has been repeated so many times. However, repetition is crucial to further the normalization of controversial ideals. Even when no one wants to listen, if somebody yells enough, people are bound to hear and maybe learn something. That is the purpose.

"All us boys are just screaming into microphones for attention because we're just so bored."

When nothing is unique, everyone resorts to talking over each other in an attempt to be heard. The loudest person will always be heard. People do not want to live a meaningless life, so they will fight for validation.

The Stranger by Albert Camus

When Marie suggests to Meursault that they get married, he says they can if she wants, but it doesn’t really matter (Camus).

Some rituals and ceremonies that are highly regarded or even seen as “sacred” are only seen as though to some people. There is a certain set of values that makes said ritual sacred or meaningful, but it does not inherently mean anything. Without the set of values, which is entirely subjective, the ritual is meaningless, just as marriage is to Meursault.

These ideals feed into the idea that meaning is created by each different individual. What means a lot to one person can mean nothing to another person, meaning nothing has value by nature.

Life is pointless unless one decides to fight back and create their own purpose.

Our Town by Thornton Wilder

“Good-bye to clocks ticking? and Mama's sunflowers. And food and coffee. And new-ironed dresses and hot baths? and sleeping and waking up...Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it?”

Emily did not realize the value she had placed on small parts of her life until she could look back on it from a third-person point of view. Meaning and purpose do not need to be given consciously. Those who are not on a metacognitive* level of functioning assign value to everything in their life without thinking about any of it.

*Metacognition - awareness and understanding of one's own thought processes.

The Stranger by Albert Camus

Meursault talks about how he enjoys using the restroom at work earlier in the day, before the one towel they have for the day is soaked through. When he mentions this to his boss, his boss tells him it doesn’t really matter.

This is an example of different individuals assigning meaning to different things in their lives. By assigning no value to the towel, Meursault’s boss actually assigns relative value to other aspects of his life.

“We burn their gallows they erect, and cut the nooses they tie for our necks.”

The artist is talking about society’s values as if they are a noose and a death sentence. The ultimate meaning of this is the idea that each individual has to find their own purpose. If purpose is assigned, it is just as stifling as being purposeless.

Embracing the idea that nothing is unique is the gateway to freedom from the oppressive nature of herd mentality.

On the contrary...

"Failsafe" by John Nieves

“I believed in all of this once" [in reference to everyday occurrences such as a cat rubbing its face on the sidewalk and the wind]

The idea that Nieves is trying to convey is that everything is mundane, so there is no point in trying to diverge into the world of the extraordinary. It doesn't exist. Everything is inherently meaningless, so there is no way to give meaning to life.

However, there is a point.

The point is to learn from those that have come before to grow as an individual and give subjective and relative meaning in one’s life.

Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

Mrs. Nemur in Flowers for Algernon states that there is nothing really “new” anymore, only learning from the mistakes of those that have come before (in reference to her husband’s scientific experiment).

Correcting mistakes from the past is just one of many purposes that can be assigned in life.

Therefore, meaning and purpose are completely subjective. They can be defined differently from person to person. This means that no generalizations can be made in life.

In conclusion...

Purpose can be achieved in life even though everyone in the world is going to die and be forgotten eventually.

Meaning must be discovered by each and every individual. No one can define anyone else's purpose; therefore, the only way to reject the initial nihilism that comes with the arrival at metacognition is to challenge the nihilism with absurdism.

Credits:

Created with images by Taken - "jail prison ruin" • Just some dust - "black" • push 1 - "good morning!" • Sergey Urzhumskov - "Hyacinthus orientalis" • Pexels - "astronomy bright constellation" • Bluesnap - "construction metal feature" • Tama66 - "cloister monastery courtyard" • Hans - "antelope canyon page sand stone" • Flower's.Lover - "Flowers"

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