Suicidal Ideations and The Meaning of Life

“That life is worth living is the most necessary of assumptions, and, were it not assumed, the most impossible of conclusions.”

George Santayana (1863-1952)

“Is life worth living? This is a question for an embryo not for a man.”

Samuel Butler (1835-1902)

Flipping through a book of quotes, I came upon the two above. I looked at them for a long while with that feeling that these words were stirring something in my head and my chest, but unable to discern what they were exactly. Have you ever given yourself cause to pause for a mere feeling? Where you recognize that this is something worth looking at, worth turning over for a few more cycles in your mind before moving on to the next thing in your mundane little life. You could take the blue pill: close the book, turn away, and let the feeling dissolve back into the cushy ether of your contented self.

Or you could swallow the red pill and stay, letting the wheels cough and wheeze back to life – a cerebral resurrection. I read them over and over again, each reading slower and more deliberate than the last. It is no surprise that I have wondered about killing myself – you must be honest; all of you have. It seems like something that is unavoidable to think about, even if you have no conscious intention of actually ending your own life. We are animals with vast curiosity. What does it feel like to die? Will people miss me? Who? What will the eulogy sound like? How will the obituary read? How should I go? What if I write a memoir in the place of a tacky suicide note? A suicide memoir. Death sells.

Ironically, thinking about the meaning of life puts one in a rather morbid mood. Even the religious types. All they can talk about is how they’re going to die, where they’re going to go when they die, what good they’re going to do before they die. Old and new testament. Death, death, death.

Thinking about life is just as pointless as life itself. And that is a-okay.

We need to stop worrying about what meaning this great and mystical Life has because there is no inherent meaning. You survived conception, wombhood, infancy, childhood… All you have to do is live. Make up your own goddamn meaning. It doesn’t have to be what I think is the meaning or what your neighbor thinks is the meaning or what your pastor thinks is the meaning. No one can explicitly tell you what the meaning of life is, only what the meaning of their own life is. And even that is perhaps impossible. Perhaps only our subconscious knows what the meaning or purpose of our own life is and all we have to do is listen.

What do you feel is your meaning of life? Is it possible to ever know what it is? Share how glamorous or inglorious your death would be in the comments below.

(Huh. That really was rather morbid. It’s just been one of those days…)

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18 thoughts on “Suicidal Ideations and The Meaning of Life

  1. Pingback: Update: Three Weeks into the Academic Quarter… What the Hell Am I Doing? | Stressing Out College

  2. Deep Thought once said, “the answer is 42″ I like that answer….. I also like the fact that it took 7 1/2 million years to figure it out. Now as I believe that is the correct answer I await only to hear the question….. Life, hmm I think life is what happens when you quit living, I have never thought much about life until this past year, when I have put living on hold….. People say talk about life after it is done”he had a good life” my life is my past, my past for the most part was horrible, for now I must contemplate “life” as living has been put on hold. One day I will “live”again and maybe when someone looks back at all the shit I have done they will say “his life was pretty good, all things considered….. “

  3. Brilliantly put.

    Pleasure must be considered as the meaning of life, but it get’s no one closer to any actual definition. I can find pleasure in knowing i do things to better the lot of others now and in future generations. Is pleasure real? The chemical rush is.

  4. There are times I have said we each have to create our meanings in life but when I once sat to think about it, I realized that all I can do is to live. All the things I have a thought would be meaningful, I realize ultimately are a chasing after the wind. These things, for example, caring for those close to me are important and maybe they are sufficient to give life meaning. I really don’t know.
    I have thought about the prospect of death. I have read a few books on dying and for me what bothers is me not being around to do the things I enjoy doing. I have asked some of my friends to write eulogies for me, just to know how they feel about our friendship but it hasn’t been met with success so far. I will keep trying and maybe someday I will find one with courage enough to write what they would say in my funeral and I hope they will at least be honest even if they also want to flatter me.

  5. Great quotes. I especially liked the second one, have not heard anything like it before.
    We have to make our own meaning in life. The purpose of matter is to exist; life as an evolution of matter is to exist; humans as an advanced form of life must have the will to exist, to infiltrate all things in which there is no life and press ourselves into it. It’s kind of a bizarre way of thinking, but it was what I ended up with after many months of thinking and getting into that fantastic argument of only God and religion giving meaning to existence.
    What point, really, would there be to our lives if we lived under a god? We would have no real choice, and so no purpose at all beyond machinery. Just because we are afraid of living, and thinking, and feeling, and dying, doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t, or that we won’t. People seem to think that it’s unfair, it’s some great cosmic injustice, if there is no afterlife. There is no reward for the good and no punishment for the bad. But what that fear really boils down to, is the hopelessness that you, precious you, won’t exist any more. And of course that’s an understandable way to feel. But the universe doesn’t owe you. The best thing that happened to you was ever being born at all.

    So people should make up their own minds, and their own meaning. Because there is none out there but the absolute basic. Enjoy your time on this world and with other people. They are what will give you meaning. Protecting yourself from others will get you nothing.

    Loved the article, by the way. I appreciate your frankness.

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