The Existential Meaning

The 20th century of French philosopher Albert Camus recounted the ancient Greek myth of Sisyphus.  You’ve probably heard of it.  Due to various transgressions he’d committed, Sisyphus was condemned by the Gods to roll a boulder up a mountain.And when he reached the top, the boulder would rollback down and then Sisyphus would have to start all over again. This was the entirety of his existence. He couldn’t do anything else. It was just up and down the hill in a never-ending cycle.

Camus said we must imagine Sisyphus happy.  Really happy.  Camus was an existentialist and he thought that each none of what we do is inherently important because stuff just doesn’t have any inherent Meaning.  We’re all just rolling boulders up hills. But we can choose to give meaning to what we do.  After all, we decide what to value. So when we throw ourselves into a task, it becomes filled with meaning. Meaning we give to it.

Some people find this story of Sisyphus to be really depressing because on the one hand it’s kind of saying that nothing you do matters.  But on the other hand, it’s saying that anything you do matters provided you choose to imbue it with value.

Become a doctor and save lives.

Be a stay-at-home parent and create a beautiful childhood for your kids.

Be an amazing best friend.

Find a career that gives you the space in your life to pursue a hobby you adore.

Volunteer your time promoting a cause you care about.

Put your energy into amassing a great deal of wealth.

Become a champion Scrabble player.

Seed squirrel.

It doesn’t matter what you do.  What matters is that it’s meaning-making. For you, the existentialist message is that your life is in your hands. You and only you have the power to make your life great and only you can evaluate its greatness.

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