When I was young and naive, I thought philosophy was a course you had to study in school. I didn’t learn anything about it, and come to think of it, I don’t know that I learned much of anything in school. School should be for adults. Kids don’t appreciate anything. I’ve learned more on my own as a middle-aged man than I ever did in formal education. Anyway, maybe I didn’t learn anything about philosophy because I was a lousy student.
What I’ve learned since then is that all the angst, despair, nagging uncertainties and endless pondering I’ve done my entire life are what philosophy is about. How much different would my life have been had I learned that brilliant thinkers since the dawn of man had struggled with the same things; the same angst, despair and nagging uncertainties. Some of them actually formulated ideas and concepts around these musings and at least came to terms with the world they lived in and how best to approach it. In a broad sense, deciding each day if life is worth living is perhaps the ultimate question.
I’m by no means well versed in philosophical thinking–hell, sometimes I have to check to be sure something I deem ironic actually is–but I have found comfort in some of the existing philosophies that seem to fit me well. The first that really struck me as touching on a proper grasp of existence is absurdism. Of course nothing seems to make sense, because nothing does! Can one find happiness or at least contentedness in acknowledging the absurdity of it all? Possibly.
Objectivism helps keep me grounded in reality, which is crucially important for my sanity. Existence exists, and there’s no sense arguing about it. Round objects are round; they have a definitive roundness to them and act in predictable ways due to their roundness. If a man chooses to live, he must make definitive choices in order to continue living, or nature will choose for him.
I undoubtedly have a bit of philosophical pessimism in me, but I do acknowledge that the long moral arc of humanity’s existence tends to move in a positive direction, although it can be hard to see at the micro level. Of course nihilism makes perfect sense since nothing matters at all anyway. We’re all heading to the same non-existence and ultimately, all of life as we know it will cease to exist and the Universe will carry on as if nothing mattered at all, because it doesn’t.
Ultimately, at least for the time being, I seem to be something of an objectivist, pessimist absurdist, and knowing that many great minds tread along these same paths has lifted a heavy burden from my mind and allowed me to exist in relative peace and harmony. That and some anti-anxiety medication.