“If a man could understand all the horror of the lives of ordinary people who are turning round in a circle of insignificant aims, if he could understand what they are losing, he would understand that there can only be one thing that is serious for him – to escape from the general law, to be free. What can be serious for a man in prison who is condemned to death? Only one thing: How to save himself, how to escape: nothing else is serious.”
— G.I. Gurdjieff
Mahatma Gandhi once said, “I do not want to see the future. I am concerned with taking care of the present moment. God has given me no control over the moment following.”
Ostaseski, Frank. The Five Invitations: Discovering What Death Can Teach Us About Living Fully (p. 184). Flatiron Books. Kindle Edition.
‘As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being.’
— Carl Jung
“What does it matter how cultivated and up-to-date we are, or how many thousands of books we’ve read? What matters is how we feel, how we see, what we do after reading; whether the street and the clouds and the existence of others mean anything to us; whether reading makes us, physically, more alive.”
— Gabriel Zaid, So Many Books
Do I want to be happy? It's a benign plateau of brain-deadedness. I want to be alive and in touch not necessarily happy.
“In the first place, a man never is happy, but spends his whole life in striving after something which he thinks will make him so; he seldom attains his goal, and when he does, it is only to be disappointed; he is mostly shipwrecked in the end, and comes into harbor with masts and rigging gone. And then, it is all one whether he has been happy or miserable; for his life was never anything more than a present moment always vanishing; and now it is over.”
— Arthur Schopenhauer, The Vanity of Existence
If the human condition is viewed as a joke – something ludicrous, and necessarily marred by imperfection – then it makes sense to stop trying to treat it like a puzzle with some sort of clever solution. Perhaps it would instead be more appropriate simply to linger in the presence of that incongruous gap between the way the world actually is and the way we wish it to be, staring into the abyss with fearless amusement. In so doing, nihilists might extract pleasure from a situation that would otherwise only bring frustration and pain.
So why not laugh? After all, if it is true that nothing really matters, then the fact that nothing really matters doesn’t really matter either, does it?
— John Marmysz, ‘In Defense of Humorous Nihilism’