I experienced an existential crisis when I was 11.
Maybe I was 12.
Whatever the case, I was shook to my core. After spending years in terror of a Catholic hell and the sparse promise of a heavenly salvation, I was presented with a much more terrifying proposition:
Even the slim prospect of heaven lost its promise when I over-imagined the implications of infinity. My (manic) meditations on the irrationality implicit within all of existence left me... uneasy... to say the least. It was an unpleasant year or two that I spent most of my days waking and walking to school, unable to reconcile the unconvincing "urgency" against the annihilating heft of infinity. It's challenging to sleep well when your brain is consumed with how pointless you are. How pointless everything is. Infinity creates and destroys everything.
At least that's how I experienced it as a pre-teen.
And I didn't really remedy that existential crisis as much as I carpeted over it. Unable to rely on "God" and uneasy about the alternative, I consumed myself and busied my mind with the opiate of my generation: TV and Video Games. The struggle of an actor or a game character was enough to take my mind off of futility and focus on the present moment, keeping me occupied until I fell asleep, exhausted.
When I entered High School and discovered the worlds of my peers beyond my television and game console, I drank in their distraction as readily as I had consumed the stories of the screen. Whatever I could do to avoid the sense of hopeless helplessness that I had known in those earliest days of eternity.
Sure, there were some days and nights of roaring silence, here and there, when there wasn't a tv, a radio, or a friend to pass the time.
But, there were also moments of inexplicable bliss, moments of peace, calm, belonging, and even purpose.
In general, I kept silence at bay. And, in general, that kept existential crisis away.
But. Then I graduated.
I didn't know it then, but graduating from high school was the entry point into a mental-emotional swamp as deep and as dark as that place I had first discovered way back in middle school.
Sure I had "friends". But, after the combination of a medical discharge from the Navy and a turbulent separation from my high school sweetheart, my sense of purpose and my sense of belonging were so tattered, that they may have made me worse off than I had been before I'd had a sense of either.
No matter how much I wanted to return to that well carpeted life of high school, where I had built in a thoroughly distracting array of purpose and belonging, I found it difficult to manufacture a replacement for that old life.
In the wake of these unexpected traumas, I managed to craft some place and purpose for myself. I knew I was a teacher. And, I knew that I was here, that I would dedicate my life to helping others out of that existential swamp I had discovered a decade earlier. But, I made these declarations while I myself was neck deep back in that swamp again... because there I was again, nearly consumed by an overwhelming despair. The despair I projected onto infinity that declared: "Whats The Point?".
I was eventually consumed by that despair, as blend of hopelessness and apathy nearly took my life.
But instead of a coffin, I found myself locked inside of a different kind of box. Once again, I had nothing but silence and my thoughts to keep me company.
It was not a simple journey.
It took days... and really it took years in that box to travel back and connect the dots of my twenties to the dots of my tweens. But, after connecting those dots, I was able to perceive the width and breadth of my despair, the despair that I had tried to shrug off like it was just a bad break up. Luckily for me, I was also able to connect these two points of despair to some bright spots in the middle-- which provided me with some insights into the antidotes for my ailment.
One of these bright spots, of all things was an episode of Futurama. And, thanks to the magic of the internet, I'm able to share that memory with you here:
This is just one of infinite helpful memories. But, I share it here exactly because of it's beautiful absurdity. With this laughable reference point of an ambivalent but compassionate "Universal Consciousness" I was able to reconcile myself with an infinity that wasn't terrifying or hopeless. And, within this, I was able to insert some parts of the "Life Aesthetic" as I understood it from the book Back to the Wild.
I harmonized the irrationality of infinity with the paradox of non-linear time... concluding that all time exists at all time. And, within this perspective, counter to the assumed lack of agency people might associate with non-linear time, I allowed myself to believe in the permeability of these infinite, always present realities. Upon which, I was forced to ask my self: "If you exist in a non-linear, innumerable convergence of all realities and all possibility... What is it that life is for?" and the response I gave myself was this:
"Maximize (healthy) Joy and Minimize (unnecessary) Suffering".
I provided myself with the rationale that, while nothing lasts forever, everything lasts forever, even if we cannot perceive it, our life is impacting all other life throughout all time, in all possiblities... so... the only responsiblity we have, once we are aware of this is:
"Maximize (healthy) Joy and Minimize (unnecessary) Suffering".
Which can and should be known as;
The Good Vibrations Theory
Because, as self-aware entities in this intersection of infinite infinities, it is our privileged and our duties to manufacture, stimulate, provoke, cultivate, and otherwise promote healthy Joy in the greatest volume and frequency we are able while reducing, mitigating, preventing, and solving circumstances of unnecessary suffering to the best of our ability....
Because, in doing this, we are able to create a wake throughout all of infinity, a positive ripple which may compound upon itself until it elevates the entirety of existence into a vibrational state of light and joy. Until, perhaps, all of infinity vibrates itself out of existence... but hey, if the totality has to go. I like the idea of everything in the multiverse slowly but steadily transcending into or out of any known plains of existence, dissipating in a glow of joy and light.