Usually, we live our lives in a seemingly stable way. It doesn't really seem like taking away or adding a few things might change a lot. We think we are strong and have a lot to live for.
But the question occured to me last night: How much does it really take to change a meaningful life to a meaningless life? Let's assume, for instance, that the three (four, five) most important things of my life were taken away from me - how much would this affect me?
- To some people, their profession means everything to them
- To some people, their relationship means everything to them
- To some people, their religion means everything to them
- To some people, their ideals and values mean everything to them
- To some people, their wealth means everything to them
- The list goes on...
And of course there are things in between. Some people will go into deep depression if a spouse or other family member dies, while there is still a perceived "10%" left somewhere else, for example in money or religion or perhaps another family member or friend. It could be anything.
The vast majority of people will not depend 100% on one thing. But it is likely that most of us, I assume, will depend on perhaps three or four things. If you take these away, suddenly life is not worth living any more, you might be surprised to find out. The house of cards collapses.
Right now, this is just a theory, but the thought has occured to me that I might be right about it.
If I had to define what the most important things in my life were, it's not even an easy question to answer. Not only do I have to define what means a lot to me, but also how I would react IF these things were taken away from me, to which I might actually react differently than I think I would.
But anyway, just for the sake of curiousity, let's assume that these are my three "things":
- My love relationship
- My ideals, the moral values that define me
- My financial security and accomodation
If you need one more thing, add health. Because you would be surprised how much things change for you when your health declines seriously.
The interesting thing about my life is that it doesn't need to feel special and still feels worth living. For example, I've been playing the same video game since 2010 although it's pretty pointless. But still, there are things that make me want to live. Just to give you an idea that my priorities and demands are not too extreme.
So let's assume that I lose my most important things... how will this affect me?
To be honest, I think that there isn't a lot that would keep me strong. In other words, I might lose my will to live.
Then again, if I only lose ONE of these things, does that mean that everything is still okay? No, I might be one third dead, for example. And losing two of three things makes you more dead than alive, I guess.
So recently, there has been a thing that's been bothering me. I would rather not mention it here because it's a forbidden topic, but it has to do with "my ideals, the moral values that define me".
I am not one of the people who define themselves mainly through their work, and I can also stay home most of the time and not lose my life's meaning at all. But when it comes to my values, I take much more pride in them than most people would be able to understand. I'm very idealistic deep inside and I can accept that nobody gets this.
At the moment, my values are under siege by a very dark force. It's trying to corrupt what I stand for. The dilemma is that I can't just defend the attack without losing something else in return. So whatever I do, there is a risk I lose something.
If I "sell" my values and make a joke out of myself, I will not be the same person any more.
It's ironic that "changing your name" is sometimes both a metaphor for and an actual part of losing your identity, but I digress...
Integrity is important to me: to not only believe, but to act according to my beliefs. When I watch the news, I want to be able to have my own opinion about the news and at the same time know that I LIVE my opinion, too.
We are not mere animals. Animals just live, follow their instincts, and do what is necessary to protect themselves and their species. They don't require a deeper meaning or agenda for their existence. But I do.
I have values. And if I give up my values, what am I then but an empty shell? Yes, I would still have a heartbeat, and I could still silently whisper to myself what I think, but I would know deep inside that I never even stood for my beliefs. And every time something unjust happened in this world, I would know that I couldn't be the one to make claims, because hey, I can't even follow the rules I set for myself.
My ideals define my identity. It's what makes me "me". I decided not to live for my job, not for a child, not for my country. But at least I want to be able to have my freedom and take pride in it.
If I lose my ideals, then I'm wondering what's even good enough any more. THIS is the reason why I can't sleep well at night.
This is a principle that people should be able to relate to. Here are examples for this:
- Why play a game that's so easy it bores you?
- Why turn on the computer if it only crashes?
- Why care for a pet that only bites you, is afraid of you and will never build a relationship with you?
- Why keep a job that only frustrates you?
I'm scratching the surface of some of these questions. I don't feel obliged to keep my empty shell functioning if it's only for the sake of other people - to make them believe I'm still okay, still a normal person, still willing to live.
Don't get me wrong: I CAN sell my values at a nice price. But there is a reason why there is the term "selling your soul". It really means something, and I don't even mean that in a religious sense.