For about as long as I’ve given it any sort of thought, my baseline philosophical beliefs have strayed toward nihilism. Sure, I’ve flirted with other theories before–I wrote a whole post about Heidegger–but when all else has failed me, nihilism has been there.
The main idea of nihilism as I understand it (read as: potentially way off-base) is that life is essentially meaningless. There is no guiding force determining right and wrong, or distinguishing what objectively important.
For many, nihilism can be incredibly liberating. If the universe doesn’t determine what matters, that means you get to do it. You literally get to shape the world in your image; you get to decide what your purpose is. But for me, I’be done a pretty good job of deciding there is no universal reason for me to exist, but a pretty bad job at picking a personal reason to be here.
The more I’ve thought about it, I’ve realized I may have actually picked something as my guiding force without realizing it. During my lower points, when I questioned my purpose or whether it was worth sticking around, I have returned to one motivator: curiosity.
If you’ve learned any world history, or simply paid attention to world events while you’ve been alive, you’ll notice the world is wild. Unpredictable events happens all the time: from murderous shuffling of monarchs to running into a friend you haven’t seen in 10 years at the supermarket while you’re on vacation. I’ve already missed the vast majority of such things, and I know they will only continue on after me.
And I want to know what’s going to happen. Maybe I’ll wake up tomorrow to the beginning of a nuclear winter. Maybe it’ll be the day I come up with the idea for my future best-selling novel. Maybe it’ll just be another day. But the only way to know is to keep living. And that’s what sustains me when nothing else does. Maybe I’ll create a different purpose for myself at some point, but that’s been enough for me before, and it will be for now.