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How everybody plays the same game and not everyone feels that they’re in control and the impact of it.
Humans are animal driven by purpose, above all we strive for a sense of meaning in our lives, and if we don't get it, we get extremely extremely sad. Viktor Frankl is a human who has suffered starvation, slave labor, racism, unfairness in life, watches countless people die, provides help for those are of in scrutiny in the concentration camp as he works as a therapist in the camps. In his book, he encounters suicidal patients who have encounters total hopelessness and meaninglessness. That there was nothing more to expect from life, nothing to live for. From which, Frankl answers
It was a question of getting you to realize that life was still expecting something from you; something in the future was expected of you.
It’s impossible for me to know each of my readers backgrounds, hence I’m just going to describe how I experience hopelessness and how it lead to suicidal thoughts.
When I was younger, I felt a sense of belonging in this world, even if I don't know exactly how I would fit into a role, I barely think about the details. I live life as much as how everybody seems to live life. Worry much but not too much, dare not to ask, nor even question my existence and the purpose of why we are all being here. Everything seems adequate, I have access to food, water, shelter, and love from my family, everything seems that it could go autonomously and unbothered.
Decisions were made (inevitably), and all of those accumulated decisions lead you into who I am today, sure I will have regrets on something because I possibly couldn’t be right about what I want every time I make a decision. Nothing is for certain and I could only hope for the best, and knowing whats best could only come by measuring one option with the other alternative when all of the outcomes have made into fruition, and if you have every tried being human, that’s an extremely extremely difficult to do.
Have you ever hated yourself for doing something that you wish you didn’t. Have you ever blame yourself so ferociously that you’re being put into your current condition, or even blame other people or God for the unfairness in life. If you finally have managed yourself and remove all the external variable and the noise, you would finally find yourself sitting… with yourself. You hated yourself and you wish that you are not who you are. You are not the one in control.
You are not the one in control
Here’s where things get interesting, in moments of extreme self doubts and self sabotage, it feels like as if we’re being cornered and beaten down by something, something that exists purely in our mind. The ghost of self sabotage, the ghost that its unlike us, yet we felt comfortable when he’s around. So comfortable we could feel the difference without his presence, that’s how familiar he is. We created him with a purpose anyway, to be cautious. It’s right that we need to be cautious before making any decision, but when we have convinced ourselves that our past decisions has been nothing but a series of ill-thought-out decisions, we began to doubt ourselves more and more to take the next decision as we have already thought of the despair and regret coming from the next decision, even before we make the actual decision, and that is my friend, my personal hell.
Everyone has their own preferences on what are the things that they fear the most. Personal hell is a concept that we made on our own and we could either be only fantasizing or imagining the concept or we are already in it or even we fear that we are on a destination towards our own personal hell. How real your personal hell solely depends on your thoughts. Or so I thought its the case, until the mental realization came into reality faster than the eye can see, or even the physical conditions helped carve the definition of our own personal hell. I think about the concentration camps a lot, it draws a clear line between mental and physical constraints of personal hell. Even if you’re mind is in the brightest, you cannot help but to think about the torment that you’re potentially be going through tomorrow or even one hour from now inside the concentration camps, after seeing all your relatives and familiar faces being taken away from you, the agony, and the sheer relentless amount of pain, seems overwhelming for your senses to handle. As if you’re being pushed to your breaking point and you will eventually break. The absence of hope, the absence of love, and the absence of meaning. You realize that whatever you do, you cannot change the condition that you are in, you are forever trapped and you let the condition drag you around as you feel the condition is too big for you, a small person to handle. Each passing day, you found no revelation, no smile, as you found that adding more strings of attachment towards anyone or even anything is as good as amplifying your vulnerability than your emotional capacity can handle as you felt that you’re already broken.
I would argue that the lack of sense of belonging would significantly affect a person's happiness and their sense of meaning, be it in the context of jobs or in social interactions. Having a constant fear of dying alone and everyone will forget you will significantly affect a person's health in their day to day activity. The feeling of being dragged around by the condition you’re in, everything passes by so fast, too fast for you not to think for yourself as you thought that you’re simply adapting but you rarely felt that you belong at your place, little by little, dust by dust, the lack of belonging consumes the mind and soul.
“When we are no longer able to change the condition - we are challenged to change ourselves” - Viktor Frankl
As for most things in life, we expect to have a guide or best practices of what we’re doing. We begin to feel anxious if we think that we are in the wrong, we fear that we are not catching up to the standards. We see and compare ourselves to the guideline. Until it's made obvious that the stack begins to crumble when we realize that there isn’t any guideline and no one, really no one has figured it out, life is not a game with checkpoints and credit scenes. This article has been dragging a theme of a condition which has fascinates my mind the most, even in the most cruelest of time in human century, how does one still maintain a will to live in a condition as harsh as the concentration camp, how does one stand up and see go beyond the condition and believe that there is more to life than continuous torment and suffering, I just don’t understand.
Even putting the context to the current timeline, we often confuses ourselves how our peers could behave or act the way they do. Feel and see things the way they do, the path they’re in and the things they say. The fear they share and the pride they hide. We positioned ourselves to solve an unimaginable task, to force and barge our way into their skin and pretending to know how to see the world with their eyes while at the same time knowing character is a by-product of decades of cumultative experience. We will never see the things they see, hear the things they see, nor even suffer the way they do. We need not to see and imagine to be someone else to fill the void of existential vacuum within ourselves, for that every human is meant to be unique and purpose is meant to be personal.
Purpose is personal
Purpose is personal. Man’s journey to meaning is a journey that man has to undertake alone. The uniqueness and singleness which distinguishes each individual gives meaning to his existence. To believe that each person's life is unique, each battle fought, each insecurity, loneliness, misery, suffering, our own limitations, our own fear and the constant worry about everything, worry about income, worry about love, worry about not knowing what we inherently want. Facing up and believing that I’m going to learn or make or become whatever it is despite how futile the condition it may seem, how fruitless our life may have seen, I will not subdue and die inside and let the condition drag me of who I am. If that does sound like a challenge for you and that’s great and it’s to be expected because everybody is playing the same game
Everybody is playing the same game
The game is not some quantifiable metric or achievements that we have to meet. Is an honest game where our fulfillment in life is something that we could only answer ourselves, its the game in which we fight with ourselves most of the time. It’s the only game that feels endless. The most cruel thing about the game is that the game will only end when we stop realizing that it has ended. It’s one thing to be called into creation without being asked first, it’s another to be called off from creation without being asked.
So next time you meet or see a smug prick who claims that they have everything figured out and everything makes sense, you need not pay attention and compare yourself to them as your purpose in life could be different if not entirely different from them. And what a sad sad way of thinking to spend our life claiming that we have things already worked out with little there is left in life to offer.
For me, living is not to aim for a tension-less state but rather the striving for some goal worthy of me. Is to believe that my purpose is unique and is impossible to be replaced as much as my experience is unique and distinguishable with other counterparts and the same is true with everyone.
this article was originally written in 6 April 2022 and finished in 10 April 2022