Existentialism

By , APPLE VALLEY, CA
“Existence precedes essence” - there is no universal, human quality that we all share. We are individual and alone, left to make our own means of existence and our own purpose. But what is this purpose? How do we find it? Will it ever be available to us in a physical form? Or is our duty as beings of existence to create it ourselves? Because there is no manner in which we are all supposed to be, philosophers have spent hours and days and weeks and months trying to configure the universal question - what do we do with this being that has been given to us? Nietzsche disregarded God as a ruling figure and decided that each human being should construct his or her own withstanding morals and not follow those set out in the Bible/by other societal means. Instead, nietzsche developed the “übermensch” - a powerful being who disregards any pre-existing conditions and creates his or her own path in life. Because guess what? He, she, you, I and we, are and will always be the only ones living it. The übermensche creates his or her own existence, because, no one else is doing it for you. Kierkegaard was a bit different in that he explored the notion of God’s relationship with each individual. Kierkegaard figured that because there are no building blocks for existence, each individual should attempt to find a personal relationship with God and use this relationship to determine what his or her purpose is. Camus was a bit insensitive in that he disregarded both of these ideologies and said, “who the hell cares about the übermensch and who the hell cares about your relationship with god? In the end, no matter which existential path you choose, you will die. He will die, she will die, they will die, and so will you, so who cares? Life and existence are meaningless.”
Sartre expanded on the idea of existentialism by differentiating the two types of existence - beings that exist in themselves and beings that have to create their own existence. Computers, books, pens; all beings in themselves. Humans have to create their own existence because without this creation, they are, essentially, nothing. A human without a purpose is a nothing. So Sartre says, “you are empty, so fill yourself up with something, please!” you don’t want to be a nothing for the rest of your life, so do something and be someone. In the end, it is your existence, and no one else can tell you how to develop it. Hitler is notoriously unpleasant, but at least he existed. He was his own person and he explored the concept of existence to his full potential. He achieved, he had a purpose (no matter how sinister) and regardless of whether his existence was good or bad, he had one.
Of course this is a brief outline, but when I think over all the concepts and novels I’ve read regarding existentialism, part of me wants to give up on the spot. Despite knowing my life is mine and it is up to me to do something with it, the underlying pressure of having to create something is both exhausting and daunting. What if I do it wrong? What if, in the end, my existence is meaningless and I could’ve been so much more? Of course, the only way to get to that point is to live in the process, but I am terrified that I’m doing it disastrously. What if I actually do have a purpose that was intended for me, but I is so far in the opposite direction? I can’t possibly know! Of course there are those beings that drift through life with their menial accomplishments and don’t think of things like this. They don’t regard their existence as something worth spending hours contemplating; they just be. But of course there are others, like me, who are scared to exist, because existing means existing and it gives you some kind of immeasurable importance and relevance. Do I want that kind of pressure? Do I want to be an integral part of a world I often long to rid myself of? Do I want to contribute to this mass destruction we call living? I don’t know. I sometimes think about it, and in those times I wish I could be one of those others who just doesn’t care. But I do care, and I will continue to for as long as I keep on existing.





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