“I am unable to see much of a point in life. It’s like that Louis C.K. standup where he wonders why more people don’t just kill them selves. Why don’t they? Not that I want to. I’m too chicken and too worried about what that would do to people who love me. But intellectually it feels like a logical choice. Everything feels hollow. I’ve become a nihilist. I feel like a lost cause. A loser. Why am I so cynical? I want to go back to being ignorant again. Ignorance really is bliss. I feel I’m being too cynical…”
And I feel you’re not being cynical enough.
What is cynicism? It is an attitude of mistrust – of authority figures, of social mores, of institutions, of belief systems, of social dynamics, of rules of engagement, of political ideologies, of spiritual doctrine…it is to suspect that the very scaffolding, upon which all of what we see has been built, is a sham. And when one begins to see this, often against one’s own will and volition, one has no choice but to feel jaded by the whole experience.
There is a bitterness and a resentment that brews inside. There is a feeling of having been duped by this elaborate scheme that everyone has been a part of. There is the disappointment in realizing that even those we believed were wise like our parents, our teachers, our gurus, our leaders were just fools like the rest of them. Everyone fell for it.
If you’ve ever been conned, you know that it doesn’t feel good.
To rub salt into the wound, it’s not like you can just walk away from it all either. Sure you could go hide in a cave or a forest somewhere. But if that’s not your cup of tea, then you are pretty much stuck living in the sham. Every news report, every tv ad, every celebrity performance, every spiritual satsang, even ordinary social interactions like small talk by the office cooler, or getting chatted up at someone’s party is a grating feeling on your senses. It all reeks of hypocrisy, idiocy, confusion, falsehood.
Why would you want to be in the world when that world is a cesspool of lies, fabrication, pretentiousness, fear, insecurity, manipulation and exploitation?
You are right to say that the world is empty and devoid of real meaning. It is hollow to the core.
But that world is not life. It’s a tiny aspect of it. The human drama. With its elaborate sets and elaborate scripts and elaborate roles and elaborate costumes. It’s like stumbling into a Hollywood set except this set encompasses most of the globe.
Not cynical enough…
Because you still think of yourself as a “lost cause”, “a loser”. Compared to what? Compared to whom?
What is a loser? What is a winner? You can only have losers if you also have winners. So, what are we talking about winning and losing at? Life? Everyone loses in life. Reaching the finish line earns you the prize of a wooden box six feet under the ground or a bed of sticks set ablaze.
Winning and losing is about the human drama for you. And if you feel like a loser then there is something within you that STILL believes you can win.
Not cynical enough. Not skeptical enough. Not nihilistic enough.
You’ve whittled away many of your beliefs but there are some fundamental ones still lurking just beneath the surface that are totally fucking with your mind.
When in doubt, double down. That’s been my motto ever since I began to see through the facade. The moment I begin to feel an inner wavering, an inner questioning of my own self in relation to my environment, an inner hesitation to act in a manner that feels true to me for fear of how it may be perceived, I override my instinct to brake by hitting the gas pedal instead.
Trust your cynicism. The energy of it. Not the content of it. Not what it’s saying to you. But where it’s taking you.
I talked about this in the “Halo of Hope” post last week. You can’t discover life’s meaning until you have drowned in its total meaninglessness. You can’t affirm life until you have utterly denied it. You can’t discover your reason to live until you have exhausted all the reasons why you shouldn’t.
Anything short of that is a decoy. It’s a substitute. An impostor ideal handed to you by someone or something outside of you. They are not YOUR reasons.
Anarchy is the highest form of governance. But the world isn’t ready for it. We still need to be led, to be policed, to be told right from wrong, to be judged, to be worked, to be told how much we owe, to be held responsible for our actions, to be rewarded for our good deeds and punished for our bad ones – like children. Like witless children.
But the chick that grows too large for its shell begins to feel constricted by it. He feels the pressure and stress of a world that he has outgrown. And he pecks. He pecks like mad, in a frenzy, in desperation to break free – to GET THE FUCK OUT of this structure that once nourished him but is now slowly crushing him.
There is a bigger reality out there that has little to do with what human beings think or say about it. You can’t see it because this shell is all you know. This shell of ideology, identity, ideas, idiocy.
And it may seem like you have a death wish. To the chick who is compelled to destroy his shell, it may seem like his is an act of self-sabotage; of annihilation of his world and thereby his self. But what he doesn’t realize is that he is really obeying his impulse to live. To encounter life raw and real. To no longer be separated by an opaque wall that keeps him cocooned in a world of warm isolation.
Life, raw and unfiltered, is rife with meaning. Not the kind of “meaning” the intellect craves. But the kind that is self-evident, self-explanatory, self-justifying in the absolute immediacy with which the moment appears.
Follow your discontent. Follow your disgust. Follow your mistrust and your cynicism. Follow it until you are standing outside that shell of your former self.
From that vantage point one sees things differently. The human stage becomes no more than a form of entertainment. Our plots and storylines no more than substandard and hackneyed scripts. Our roles and identities no more than over-the-top caricatures of ourselves.
And instead of a guttural moan of dismay, all this absurdity evokes is a great and unrestrained belly laugh.