From the day we are born, we are, in one way or another, walking towards death. In such a precarious existence, it is the only thing we can be certain of. This is why, in my opinion, it is of utmost importance that we make the most of our lives in whatever way we can. Be what you want to be, not what someone else wants you to be. Do not do anything you’d only regret and rue yourself for later on. You never know when La Muerte shall stick her ugly fingers into your perfect little world and snuff it out. Live every day like it’s your last.
Having suffered through depression time and time again, I became painfully aware of my own mortality, as if I was always on the verge of death. Each time was worse than the last, and I became a bitter nihilist. I had honestly believed that life was meaningless, that there was no light at the end of this dark and endless tunnel. This was good for me as an artist but ultimately a destructive force as far as my health and my relationships were concerned. I developed my own style of writing fiction and poetry, which often utilizes unreliable narration, dark humor, and dramatic irony to paint a unique picture (or at least I try to) of society and the human psyche. Of course, my writing gave me a sense of purpose in this world. I am now less of a nihilist and more of an existentialist. Now I believe that the meaning of life is whatever it is you deem it to be. In Albert Camus’ words, the meaning of life is whatever you’re doing that prevents you from killing yourself.
Now that you know the why behind my personal opinions, we must now ask ourselves, what counts as a life well-lived? Is it the legacy you left behind? How happy you were while you lived? I could safely assume you already have a preconceived answer in your head. We all do. For instance, I could argue that Sylvia Plath lived well in spite of how it all ended for her, due to what she had accomplished whilst she was still alive. But would she agree with me? Probably not. The same can be said for Ernest Hemingway and Virginia Woolf, whom despite being some of the most influential writers of the 20th century, tragically ended their own lives. The truth is, I am biased. Mine was never what you would call a blissful life; I was always more concerned with what I could leave behind rather than what could actually make me happy in this life. I could very well regret that.
Now that you have your own notion as to what makes a life well-lived, you must now ask yourself our final question—what is the purpose of our lives? Of course, purpose and meaning are not the same thing. At least not in the context of our philosophical exercise. Is it determined by some kind of supernatural force? A god or gods? The universe itself? Or do we get to decide the purpose of our own lives? Maybe in the grand scheme of things, our lives are ultimately without a predetermined purpose, just like how we get to assign our own meaning to our lives. Our miniscule lives are nothing when you factor in the vastness of our cosmos; our planet, as unique and colorful it might be, is just a pale blue dot. But who am I to say that? Perhaps our lives do have purpose, just as I have established earlier that it has purpose. Yet whatever it may be, we were never meant to know.
Now, you might ask me, if there is no definite answer to any of these questions, then what is the point of asking them? Is it merely to cause us existential dread? I wouldn’t say so. You see, the only way to live a fulfilling life is to know what you live for and why. By failing to ascribe meaning to our own lives, we are dooming ourselves to an existence of nothing but dubiety. So now I shall ask you again, what is the meaning of life?