Saturday, November 28, 2009

Part I: Despair

“We can regard our life as a uselessly disturbing episode in the blissful repose of nothingness.”
--Arthur Schopenhauer

Despair and hopelessness enveloped me like a dark cloud blocking all sunlight—the only thing that was clear to me was that I, like all of humanity, was Sisyphus pushing my rock up the hill. I couldn’t understand how all of humanity, bustling around me, couldn’t see that they were vainly pushing a rock up a hill that would ultimately defeat them. The rock took many forms like money, family, fame and prestige. Some would get the rock very near to the crest of the hill, triumph looked certain, but I knew that eventually the rock would come tumble down.

The utter futility of life haunted me everywhere I went. I saw that we were thrust into this cold, indifferent world for a brief moment. During that moment we would have to contend with pain, disease, boredom, war, hatred, suffering and pain. I did find pleasure, but it was fleeting and always disappointing like a delicious meal that has long been digested.

I was awed by the work of brilliant minds like Shakespeare, Michelangelo, Mozart, Socrates and Einstein; however I soon realized that, even though their work has survived for many years, it would tragically be lost in time. Even if their work continues to get passed down from generation to generation it will one day be lost when humanity perishes. We don’t know when or how our end will come, but it is coming. Science tells us that there are many ways for the earth to perish, and it is quite clear that our home will one day be smashed. When the earth is destroyed so will the work of history’s geniuses. If their work doesn’t survive then what hope dose the works of the common man have of surviving?

The Theory of Evolution indicates that we exist to propagate our genetic legacy. This too seemed futile since even if I had great, great, great grandchildren they would be lost just like the work of Shakespeare. When the last person on earth dies my genetic legacy (assuming it still survives) will be annihilated as well.

I came to the conclusion that my existence was completely meaningless. In time there would be no trace left behind to indicate that I ever existed. Life was a cruel joke that had been played on humanity—our existence is ephemeral and we have the intellect to grasp that fact. Where was hope to be found?

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