Monday, 26 September 2016

How to Deal with Your Existential Crisis 101

Recently, I watched the movie I Heart Huckabees. It had a stellar cast and was the kind of weird that is required to make for good entertainment. It dealt with our all-so-familiar existential crises with a pinch of salt, which in this case is  'comedy.' We all (or I believe most of us) have that one time in life when nothing seems to go right and your life seems meaningless and all you think it requires is a prefixed purpose. We think ourselves rotten to find a sign which shows what the meaning of life is and why we are who we are. Many of us would, of course, consider it better to deal with it by indulging in activities that you feel will give you purpose and keep you from thinking. However, the mind has these thoughts like a pre-programmed algorithm running in the background and it fills every void of an idle brain making it indeed a worthy workshop for the devil. So, here is how you can deal with it.

Firstly, we have to understand that it happens to everybody (or maybe not). All the great philosophers had this thought and though the encouragement they received from their times and probably a lesser degree of competition where they could indulge in such thought without being told to see a counselor in order to focus on more important things prodded them along, we are no worse off than they are. Our random shower thoughts reveal a lot about our take on life and are mostly shaped from what we have fed our minds all along. So we all have different questions about life and arrive at different answers. Hence, instead of bottling it up, find like-minded people and discuss them. It makes for great conversation and also gives you new perspectives which you can synthesize with your theory about life and maybe one day find the question to forty-two (that is, of course, the answer to every existential question, if you did not know).

Secondly, if you are doomed to be surrounded with people whose lives revolves around themselves and they have it all figured out, then go back to those philosophers we spoke of. Now, I understand, Freud, Nietzsche may not be your cup of tea in which case fantasies might be right up your alley. If you have read Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, The Little Prince or even Name of the Wind (especially The Little Prince) you will realize there is a lot of validity to what you have been thinking all along. You are sure to find some character belting out introspection that fit right into what you have always thought to be true. If you are not into fantasies (chances are rare, though, given your predilection for the abstract) read classics. I know they can be a bit tedious, but trust me, those oldies knew their philosophies like a doctor his Paracetamol. A Hemingway or Catcher in the Rye (modern classics) or Far From the Madding Crowd might give you a whole different point of view about love and life (mostly love though).

If reading is not your thing, fret not. Animations have always been deeper than the surface and it rings true for shows like Adventure Time, Stephen Universe, Gravity Falls, Adventures of Rick and Morty, Futurama and Regular Show. The more bizarre the concept, the better it is. Finally, you can revisit philosophical masterpieces like Avatar: The Last Airbender, The Legend of Korra, and Ghibli films like Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, Tales From Earthsea. I have personally felt really calm and collected and inspired after watching Avatar and Legend of Korra and Ghibli films never fail to surprise me with their out of the box stretches of reality.

Animes also tend to have deeper meanings and if you choose correctly, it can give you the most satisfying feeling about the life and meaninglessness. Apart from the obvious ones like Naruto, Bleach and One Piece the most inspiring thing I have found yet is Fullmetal Alchemist which is a must watch. Anti-establishment fantasies like Code Geass, Death Note and Attack on Titans also provoke deeper thoughts about our significance. As Douglas Adams noted in Hitchhiker’s Guide to Galaxy the terrifying torture is being shown exactly how minuscule and insignificant one is compared to the universe which we balance with our quest for higher purpose. Of course movies like Fight Club, Inception, True Story are there to question reality but those are mostly reasons why we start wondering in the first place and chances are you have watched loads of them to feed your pursuit for meaninglessness.

Expressing your creativity or thoughts by painting, writing, singing and other forms of activities is very important for existentialist thinkers. Your obsessive thought about higher purpose and insignificance is a cry for help from your mind to your body when you feel insignificant. Expressing your creativity is like manifesting your pent up energy and fixing it in words or paints or music. The pent up energy often transforms into negative energy with constant internal chastising and leads to depression. It is very important to spend time doing something constructive as your creations are like pruned portions of your mind that you shed on your path to achieving balance.

It might seem a bit dodgy trying to douse those thoughts chipping at your productivity with more indulgence, but, once you have submitted to an alternative reality you will realize that the loss of social inhibitions in such simulated thoughts help you grow as a person. Only with complete delimitation, we can identify our true and just boundaries. Our imaginations emanate from our knowledge and till you can imagine a place where your perceived rules are absent you cannot realize what is truly right or wrong. At the end of it all, you will realize, it was always a question about what is right and wrong and in your mind, you break the superstructure to return to the state of nature and try to understand the naked truth about your surroundings.

Written by Sayantani Saha
Writer, dreamer of world exploration and lover of high fantasy

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