Sigmund Freud thought we had a life and a death wish. To competing forces deep inside our being. One that means us well and give us life and one that harms us and brings about our death, or at least a semblance of misfortune.
I’m no psychiatrist but I think Viktor Frankl had a deeper understanding of the human mind. I don’t believe we have a death with. Like Doctor Frankl, I believe we have a will to meaning. It’s not a wish but a incorruptible will to have our lives mean something in the end, and when things don’t mean shit, that’s when we’re in trouble.
We’re in trouble not because we have a death wish, not because we willfully wished for our own destruction. We are in trouble because we ignore our will. We ignore who we are and what we are meant to do.
Death doesn’t exist in the same way that evil doesn’t exist, although in order to understand our existence we often speak of them as though they were real. Now I am not saying that we are not going to die, or that there aren’t plenty of horrid things that will happen today in the world, that happened yesterday and will happen tomorrow. But what I am saying is that death is just the absence of life and evil is simply the absence of good.
I guess it’s philosophical Friday, but humour me for a moment. What if I’m right? What if there is no death, only life and the end of life? What if there is no evil, only good and the absence of good? How would this change our reality? Would we perceive who we are and what we are meant to do differently?
Doctor Frankl was right. We have one, single, solitary will and that is to be great and for our lives to mean something. That’s all. We have a will to meaning, and everything else is just wasted time.
When you get a white piece of paper, you don’t draw with a white pencil crayon do you? You fill that white piece of paper with whatever colours you have and wish to use to create your masterpiece. Our lives are the same. We were given an amazing opportunity to live and to experience life and we either seize this opportunity or we find a million ways to fuck it up, and fuck it up for other people as well.
So we call this a death wish. We call this our dirty habits. We see ourselves as victims and automatons, living out the programming of our childhood. Again, I am not saying, having an alcoholic mother, or growing up in a war torn country doesn’t shape who you are. All that I am saying is that the reason we are all alive doesn’t change just because shit happens.
Forgive my spicy language, that tend to happens on philosophical Friday. Just add that to my death wish, and all the other things that I do to undermine my life.
I think we should forget trying to understand life as it is, and instead dream of a life as it can be. Our will and desire for life to have a purpose goes mostly unnoticed. We get distracted and scared by many things and we forget that we have a beautiful piece of canvas, and that we should paint on it whatever colour, and with whatever thickness we wish.
Cover photo generously provided by photographer Mathew MacQuarrie.