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Forging Meaning

A religiously inclined acquaintance once asked me something along the lines of, “If you don’t have a religion, where do you get your morals?” And I told him that I choose my own morals, rather than simply accepting them because I am told to. And I’m okay with that. But then he asked me, “Well, what do you believe is the point of life, if it’s not to grow closer to God?” Well, I had to think a little harder about that one. My reply was, “There is none.”

And really, I believe that. There is no point to life. We are born, some of us pass on our genetic code, we die. And all the while the world remains a dismal place, full of suffering. I simply go through the motions of life like a robot. Eventually I’ll die, too, and my death will be as meaningless as the life I lived–the life we all lived.

It has, in the past, occurred to me that the only reason I allow myself to live is for the sake of others I care about, who remain under the illusion that their lives have purpose.

But is this the way it has to be? I’ve been thinking harder about this.

I will always see the world as a terrible place, and humans as inherently destructive (not “evil,” which is a concept which I’m not certain exists) because I believe those to be facts. And I also believe that life has no inherent meaning. But, I’m beginning to realize, that doesn’t mean I can’t forge my own meaning.

So, what, I’ve been asking myself, constitutes a meaningful life? I think my answer may be tied to my greatest fear–being forgotten after death. I have always, whenever I happened to pass a graveyard, read as many of the names on the headstones as I could. Perhaps it’s as a sort of tribute to the people who have died and been forgotten. If not for a fading name on a piece of rock, nobody would ever know that they were people once, save for perhaps a few descendants–but some may not even have had that. And eventually, even your own progeny forget you (Do you know the name of your great-great-great grandmother?).

I want to be remembered. I want to have impact on people’s lives.

I may not be the next Sigmund Freud or Carl Rogers, but if I can manage to become as brilliant a psychologist as I am capable of, and if I can help as many people as I can, then maybe my life will be meaningful.


About The Mental Chronicles

I am an otherwise "normal" person who suffers from psychotic depression. This blog is about me, things I like, and my struggle with mental illness.

2 responses to “Forging Meaning

  1. Sandy Sue

    Spoken like a true nihilist.
    I would posit that being remembered and having an impact on others lives are not necessarily the same thing. What if you’re able to do one and not the other? Which one would you choose?

    Helping people is one kind of impact. Helping to relieve suffering is a little more specific. You might be interested in what the Dalai Lama has to say about suffering.

    • I agree that being remembered and having an impact are not one and the same, but having an impact is the best way to be remembered. I would hope that, through one, I would achieve the other.

      That was a fascinating article. I can certainly agree with what he says about being tolerant of all religions. That would solve a lot of wars. And I also agree that suffering is born of ignorance.

      As a clinical psychologist (once I am one, anyway), I intend to help ease people’s suffering but also help them in a more general manner, help them to learn to function with their mental illnesses. Possibly help them learn to find meaning in their own lives.

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