“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” ~ Viktor Frankl
Imagine everything being taken from you. Imagine being stripped naked of all your possessions. All your property. All your money. Everything. Imagine even being stripped of God, of meaning itself. What’s left?
The only thing left is your will. The will to keep going or the will to give up. What you choose to do with your will is up to you. Nobody else can decide for you. All you have is your will against the insurmountable obstacle of the universe. Is it get busy living or get busy dying? Is it one day or day one? It’s all up to you.
Beneath all our many layers, beneath all our things-things-things, beneath our many masks and stopgap beliefs, there is the cold, unforgiving truth that the universe is ultimately meaningless and that we are all butt-ends of a cosmic joke. All our possessions, our beliefs, our expectations, are illusory playthings in the grand scheme of things.
This cold, unforgiving truth creates an existential vacuum, a mighty void where all things collapse into a state of meaninglessness. A black hole that sucks all light and life and meaning into its snarling null hypothesis.
It’s the ultimate conundrum for a creature addicted to meaning and hellbent on living a meaningful life but faced with the fact that it is going to die and that ultimately its existence is but a speck in an ancient and indifferent universe.
So, what’s to be done? How does one square such a circle? How do we solve the paradox? How do we keep going? It’s a two-part answer: embrace the void its meaninglessness, and then fill it with meaning. Let’s break it down…