Get born. Your existence precedes your essence, after all! No but for real, get born, ideally to a family that will raise you with (undoubtedly conservative and/or traditional) values that you at some point come to reject.
Drive to a cliff. Stand at edge of cliff. Look to bottom of cliff. Think about your guts splattering all over cliff as you tumble down.
Wonder if you will jump off the cliff. Think “I can’t jump off this cliff.”Think about fate. Think about God. Think about your future. Think about your family and friends’ love for you.
Realize that you actually can jump off the cliff. By “can’t” you just mean that you have been conditioned to believe that any combination of those things makes you feel as though your life has some sense of externally-generated purpose. Ending your life would disrupt that ‘master plan’. Realize there is no master plan. Feel instant, suffocating angst.
Realize you still don’t have to jump off the cliff. If you wanted to you could and nothing would stop you. But you don’t want to. So you don’t. You are totally in control of your own behavior. Killer.
Recognize that this means you are totally free (awesome) and there is no external purpose that gives your life meaning (boo). Feel extreme anxiety and depression based on this fact, yet in the back of your mind feel relieved like you finally have an accurate understanding of reality. Acknowledge that having some kind of normative worldview makes people happier but only in the way that a sheepdog is happy to herd sheep for its master without ever asking why.
Find people who share your new found existential outlook. The first people will be Nietzsche, Sartre, Kierkegaard. The next will be the smart kids from school who major in useless humanities and only wear black. When you’re a big strong grown up existentialist, you can start converting anyone you meet.
Congratulations, your existential crisis is complete. You’re more self-aware then everyone else you know. Your life will never been the same and you’ll probably feel alienated by most of society for your whole life, but, um… at least you’re right?
“Are you aware that you are conditioned? That is the first thing to ask yourself, not how to be free of your conditioning. You may never be free of it, and if you say, “I must be free of it”, you may fall into another trap of another form of conditioning. So are you aware that you are conditioned? Do you know that even when you look at a tree and say, “That is an oak tree”, or “that is a banyan tree”, the naming of the tree, which is botanical knowledge, has so conditioned your mind that the word comes between you and actually seeing the tree? To come in contact with the tree you have to put your hand on it and the word will not help you to touch it.”—J. Krishnamurti (via themagnificentsoil)
You do not have to be good. You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting. You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves. Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine. Meanwhile the world goes on. Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain are moving across the landscapes, over the prairies and the deep trees, the mountains and the rivers. Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air, are heading home again. Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting— over and over announcing your place in the family of things. -Mary Oliver (belated thank you chrissy)
Sometimes things don't go, after all,
from bad to worse. Some years, muscadel
faces down frost; green thrives; the crops don't fail.
Sometimes a man aims high, and all goes well.
A people sometimes will step back from war,
elect an honest man, decide they care
enough, that they can't leave some stranger poor.
Some men become what they were born for.
Sometimes our best intentions do not go
amiss; sometimes we do as we meant to.
The sun will sometimes melt a field of sorrow
that seemed hard frozen; may it happen for you.