I’ve tried to start this post a million different times, and I’ve thrown them all away. There’s something I want to say here, something I’ve been thinking about for a long time, but I’m just not sure how to say it. Still, I think it’s relevant, now more than ever. Maybe someone will understand what I’m feeling.
A Beautiful Wasteland
In middle school, I discovered nihilism in the same way many kids do. They begin to question authority and the rules they’ve taken for granted their whole lives, and after some scrutiny, they soon realize none of it really mattered to begin with. People are capable of anything they want, and society is just there to bring them down. And the world is complicated and makes even less sense than it did as a child, and you came from a place where you believed in Santa Claus and now you’re wondering what the Hell Santa had to do with Jesus’s birthday anyway. And does any of that even matter?
Yea, that was a rough time. In my case, the feeling was temporary. Existential depression is great when you’re younger, but I was tired of it by enter high school, and made a change in my outlook. It helped me make friends and find the joy in life again. You must make life mean something, no one else can give it to you. It comes from within, not without.
But there is still a part of me that feels the emptiness, almost like nostalgia. I look up at dark, cloudy skies and feel the crushing weight of it all. And it feels nice. There is a certain comfort in nothingness – in a vast, sprawling waste of crumbling past giving way to bleak futures. Music has really brought it out of me recently. I’m a child of 90s, and though I was almost too young to remember, Grunge was in my blood, strumming to my pulse before I even knew what music was. All that sad guitar and vocals really brings me back, makes me feel at home in the occasional wastelands of life. Life isn’t all pain, but there’s still a lot pf pain. More than just personal strife, music like that conjures images of a broken world, a final sunset before the Earth finally goes dark. Everything extinguished. And for the last persons on Earth, there’s nothing but clarity – a certainty of the nature of life. Nothing cruel. Nothing hopeful. Just life, how it comes and how it goes.
The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows on YouTube has a great word for this. Lachesism: The Longing for the Clarity of Disaster. Because it’s all bullshit, right? Not only is it bullshit, but everyone knows it’s bullshit. Yet we continue to try and coexist with our own made-up limitations, while judging others for trying to foil the status quo. Better to be done with it all – burn everything to the ground and see where our real values lie. We know what the answers in life are, but we distract ourselves with the business of life. Take out the business, and you’re left with a few people standing in a room, trying to make sense of one another. That’s truth. That’s real. Look out over a razed and shattered Earth and smile at the futility of trying to make it anything else. Every day is a miracle, but we can’t help but take life for granted. A catastrophic reminder every now and again reemphasizes what it was all for in the first place.
Before I knew about Lachesism, I had coined the term for myself as Numino Desolae, or a Numinous Desolation. I think it’s beautiful.
The Fuck-It Adjustment
But not matter how beautiful I think that idea is, I’m also aware that it’s just a dream. The end of the world is an amazing fantasy, and I think it resonates within us all, since the dawn of history. From the Great Flood and Noah, all the way down to the Walking Dead, we love thinking about the end and what it will be like after everything else falls away.
The only problem is, it’s not falling away.
That’s not a call to arms, that’s a truth. The thing about dreams is that they’re never what we imagine them to be. Djinn and devils always deal in ironic punishments for our dark desires. We cannot predict all the outcomes the end would bring; the implications are too vast to fathom. We can only take a glimpse of what may be, and even that vision is blurry at best. We might hate to admit it, but as much as we may desire the end to come, we really do enjoy life the way it is now. For all the bullshit, there are perks.
So why are we doing everything in our power to bring about the end?
Game Grumps is a comedy show on YouTube, where people play games and make jokes and hang out. One of the people on the show introduced something he called the “Fuck-It Adjustment”. The concept was simple. If something in life became difficult beyond the ability to fixed, “fuck-it” and move on. Throw up your hands, shrug your shoulders, and walk away. Not my circus, not my monkey. Hakuna Matata for the Disney fans.
At first, I was enchanted. Rather than stress about the complexities of life, say “fuck-it” and get on to the next thing. It seemed very Tao – go with the flow of the universe. Don’t try to push the river, you just get wet. Life is too short to spend time worrying about difficult things. Buddhism teaches us this. Hinduism teaches us this, and having studied those beliefs to some extent, I thought that was a graceful way to live life.
However, Buddhism also teaches the middle path, and that all things can balance. For as much as we want the end, we should also want the beginning. The more I thought on it, the more it seemed to align more with Christian beliefs. If you abide by the rules Christ lays down, then this world is just a distraction, like a line behind the velvet rope, waiting to get into the better party upstairs. The only thing that matters is after this life, which is nice if you’re someone who doesn’t have a lot to lose. It’s a thought at the core of Christian belief, and since it’s the most popular religion in the world (and fastest growing, it’s not Islam, do your research), lots of people believe that down in their heart of hearts that this life is more of an allusion – that truth lies beyond the veil of death.
Personally, I have my doubts.
Because there’s just as much chance that this is Heaven. You could be living in the one and only existence you get, and instead, you throw your eggs into the basket you can’t see, hoping they all landed safely and uncracked before you get there. Revel in the life that is, not the one that could be. This is your guarantee, right here and now. Nothing else is certain but this. People do still have to struggle on in this life. Because what one person can say “fuck-it” to varies, and they don’t always overlap. Namely, cops can shoot an unarmed, black men, say “fuck-it”, and acquit. That’s not really the flavor I was going for with this life lesson. What I came to realize was, there are some things you can’t say “fuck-it” to while the lights are still on and the world continues to spin.
So, you can imagine my horror when we elected Donald “fuckstick” Trump to be our next President. At first, the results baffled me. How could so many people not give a fuck about the country? Surely the world was full of fools, and they had elected the Fool Supreme Leader to oversee them. After some careful consideration, I realized that was the idea all along.
Lots of people really don’t give a fuck. Like I said before, the fantasy of the end crosses divides, perhaps more easily than any other story we’ve come up with (besides 50 Shades maybe. The fuck even was that?). If the ratings for the Walking Dead are any indication, people really love the idea of the end of the world. People have bunkers and panic rooms just waiting for go time, stacks of guns higher than a military barracks. What’s more, people are getting tired of waiting. What does it matter anyway? Just like I thought back in middle school, it’s all meaningless anyway. God is Heaven, all is right with the world. Whatever deity governs our lives turned away some time ago and never looked back. I’ll say this to those people, everyone who can’t wait for the sirens and the flashing lights and the world to breathe it’s final breath.
You’re not the only one living on it.
In the words of Nick Fury, until it stops, I intend to function as though the world will continue to spin. And it will, even if we wish it wouldn’t. In the words of Aragorn, there may come a day of shattered shields, where we abandon all bonds of fellowship. But it is not this day. We may want things, but life teaches us the things we want aren’t always what’s best for us. Donald Trump appears like a fast-forward button, or a vote for “fuck-it-all”. And it may not matter to people who truly believe in his rhetoric, but it does matter. Minorities are gunned down in the streets simply for being. The rich eat and the poor starve. There’s no water for children and no medicine for the aging. The world continues to spin, and yet there are still problems we can solve. And we would, if we weren’t just waiting around for the world to end, hanging on for that great punchline on the horizon.
I’m here to tell you hopefuls, that as much as it hurts, it’s not coming. We must make our own meaning, forge our own path. If nothing is owed, as many Conservatives believe, what makes you think the truth of life is owed to you at the end of it? Jesus says he’s going to hand out notecards with the Point at the end of your life, but there’s no guarantee, only Faith. I’ve yet to see Faith feed the hungry, or give a warm place to sleep for the homeless. Maybe we act to ensure the life after, but why can’t we just help each other out because it’s a cool thing to do? I love the fantasy of the end as much as the next person, I love the idea of Numinous Desolation, but I acknowledge it’s just a fantasy. This world can be just as beautiful as anything we can imagine afterward.
I’ve been known to give a review or two. If I could give it a score, I would give the end of the world three blissful fantasies out of five. But I would give this life we love ten transcendent, numinous moments out of ten. That’s just math, folks.