The Futility of Life
For those who have read or had the chance to come across the poem ‘Death The Leveller’ by James Shirley, you know that no matter what or who you are, death is your ultimate destination. It has been said that for all men, death makes the last appointment and chooses its own time. This will now bring us to the futility of life, where all our energies are invested and directed into accomplishing nothing. For when you die, all things are left behind, from possessions to family heritage, you are buried and you will henceforth begin to rot.
The futility of life makes itself evident when one views their life and existence outside of themselves, more like an outer body experience. When for some reason, one is forced to acknowledge that no matter what they do or who they become, they will die and eventually will be forgotten. Time has taught us that nothing lasts forever and that all things fade, this is a good coping mechanism for people in pain or suffering difficulties, but once contemplated for a long time, it can quickly turn poisonous. Those who have gone through life changing, shocking or near death experiences are simply prone to depression know this feeling all to well. One begins to question the value of their existence and what happens after they die.
As I have already pointed out, questioning one’s existence can cause them to give up on life as having realized that it is futile and they eventually reach an end from which nothing can return. Consequently, a few ways of dealing with this eventual end have been devised by the genius among us, giving people reasons to hope that there is more to life, and that death is not the end of it all. The coping mechanisms are as many and are as varied as the millions of people on the planet but we will deal with the more common ones.
Religion is one of the most common ways of dealing with the eventual end of life. No matter the religion, for those who believe in the existence of a higher being who is responsible for the creation of all life, also believe that after death, they will have a chance to join this higher being. The main driver here is that we all have souls and that though the body may die, the soul goes on living and for some it is to be reincarnated, for others it either goes to heaven or hell , while others it stays in some form of suspension awaiting judgment day, and in some cases it is a combination of more than two or three of these beliefs.
This allows people the hope that if they are good enough they will consequently be rewarded in the afterlife and that there is an afterlife. Knowing that one does not cease to exist upon their death, makes people live more comfortably and have less fear of death itself. This is by far the best and easiest way to deal with our somewhat futile existence with more that 70% of the world’s population believing in some form of religion or another. Spirituality also falls under this category.
Flip the coin and on the other side you have those who believe that death is the ultimate end and therefore they need to use up their entire life force here and now. To them, everything has to be enjoyed now as nothing exists after death and that one’s only guide is their own moral compass. The key is to enjoy life as much as one can and as fast as possible as while death is certain, its timing is not known (do as mush as possible in as little time as possible) and if you live long, good, if you do not, you can not be sorry. For them the body and its entire being exist here and now, and once you are dead, that is the end of you.
The only possibility of extending oneself after you are gone, is to become one so great, that 2000 years down the road, historians are still talking about you to their current generations, most of whom do not care much still ( much like the talk about Alexander the Great). Having lived a full and great life, these people are not afraid of death and welcome it to their tired limbs.
One thing however that makes certain that the futility of life persists even for those most steadfast in either coping technique, is that no one has returned from the dead to give a detailed explanation of what it is like. While death will occur to each and every one of us at one point, what awaits us upon death is a secret only the dead know and nothing is going to change that fact. So every now and then even the most devoted has bouts of doubt wondering why we go through life with all these struggles only to meet our eventual end. One thing is certain though, nature is never wrong and if we did not die, either we would stop recreating or we would have used up all the available resources. For those that die, a new set is born, even without disease, natural and man-made disasters, old age, when your organs shut down etc this natural rhythm would still continue.