Experiencing an existential crisis isn’t something I would classify as pleasant. Staring at your mortality and being forced to acknowledge how small, meaningless, and insignificant you are will take a moment to get over before carrying on with your day. I truly believe most of the world’s population activity avoids contemplating their status in the universe otherwise I think it would be the singular focus of our species. Once Edwin Hubble discovered that the universe is expanding at an accelerating rate and Albert Einstein discovered the theory of relatively, I do not understand how people continue worrying about their day to day inconvenience’s. We live on a rock orbiting a below averaged sized star on the outer rings of a spiral galaxy with 15 billion light years of expanding space surrounding us on all sides and we have next to no understanding on how it happened. Finding the answers to the countless questions that the universe arises should be the number one priority on everyone’s minds. Right?
One thing I know that is certain is that our individual inconsequential short human lives are meaningless in the grand scheme of things. In 100 years, anyone we ever knew, encountered, or created a memory of us will be dead rendering our existence forgotten minus a few public records. There is no god, at least the gods that the strategically ignorant masses of today’s societies believe in. We have made so many scientific discoveries and advancements in the past 200 years, but we are still at the mercy to our largely instinctual and emotional based brains that evolved to its current state tens of thousands of years ago. The balance of learning and understanding of the truth with our actions being motivated by primitive evolutionary emotions and desires is very difficult to find.
The older I get, the more frequent these existential crises become. I find myself rambling without structure like I did in the two paragraphs before this one all the time, trying to find something to hold onto. Something that makes this painful short existence worthwhile. One existential concept that I am particularly vulnerable too at the moment is the passing of time.
I turned 30 a couple of days ago. An age that felt so far away just 10 years ago and an age that will feel like yesterday 10 years from now. The current life expectancy in the United States is around 78 years old. Now I am extremely overweight and unhealthy so there is no way I make it to 78 with my current lifestyle. This is still a reach but let’s say I make it to 60 years old. That means I am now halfway through my life.
Objectively it is true that the second half of my life will be just as long as the first half. What is also true is that my perception of the passing of time in my second 30 years will be faster. Our personal perception of time is much different than the actual measurable passage of time. As a 15-year-old, summer vacation away from school felt like a significant amount of time. A typical public-school summer vacation is just 10 weeks, which is maybe the amount of time to complete a project or two at work as a 30-year-old. Time is much shorter to my 30-year-old self because I have experienced 30 years. When I was 15, summer vacation represented 1.2% of my entire life. My perception of time was much grander as I had only been alive for 15 years. As a 30-year-old, summer vacation represents 0.6% of my life. Those 10 weeks appear to go by much faster at my current age because I have experienced twice as much time.
By that sound logic, the second half of my life will feel significantly shorter than the first half. Even though I am only halfway through my life, I am probably closer to 2/3 of the way through factoring in my perception of time.
Should I change my lifestyle to be healthier and live longer to try to earn a few more years of life? Or is an extra 15 years of life worth it? Regardless of how long I live, I am approaching the halfway mark in time, and I am way past the halfway mark in the perception of time.
Now why does that bother me? I know it is hardwired into my brain to survive and to live as long as possible, to fear death, but shouldn’t the development of my consciousness override that? Maybe our inherent fear of death signifies how important we actually are. Or maybe is just a byproduct of evolution so I can shoot my load into females to procreate. This conundrum I believe is another example of trying to find that balance of understanding the truth and our ancient lizard brain core that creates our instincts to survive and fuck.
This existential crisis was a mild one compared to the ones I have had in the past. That sting and feeling of dread that comes with attempting to understand your mortality doesn’t last long. Maybe I am becoming numb to the feeling. Maybe that numbness will allow a more objective analysis of various aspects of existentialism in the future. Probably not.
Written while listening too:
Curses – Chapter I: Introspect
Curses – Chapter II: Bloom
Crystal Lake – Watch Me Burn – EP