Our Existential Crisis

It is our existential right as humans to define what life means to us. As adult humans, we have freedom to choose how we want to live our lives, who we want to see, what we want to do, and where we want to go within the parameters of the law. That was up until five weeks ago.

Up until the global pandemic forced us indoors, people based their decisions on rational facts despite living in an irrational universe. Suddenly, rationality has become irrational. Calling round to our parents or friends house is off limits. Our Sunday stroll in the park or driving to the beach is taboo, and meeting up socially in bars and cafes is strictly off limits. Within a few short weeks we have to completely redefine the parameters of our existence and what life means to us.

In normal times, we perform a list of activities that form radials into the outer world. Now, these lines fanning out from our core are contracting and moving inward. This brings frustration, isolation and may trigger deeper traumas leading to abuse and addiction. Without our usual outlets we find ourselves truly alone with our thoughts. This brings us to the existential meaning of life. If I am not my job, my activities, my routine, who am I? Am I afraid of dying, or am I afraid of living?

As the radials that form the outer aspects of our life continue to contract, our life is no longer lived solely on the surface, but starts to sink deeper on the vertical, to the core of our being. This is a golden opportunity for us as individuals and as a collective species to question our existence; Why are we here? What purpose do we serve? Are we here just to satisfy our basic needs such as food, clothing and shelter? Surely we have surpassed our basic needs at this point in our evolution. We live is a society where the basic needs have been far exceeded. We have come a long way in terms of living conditions and technology from our Hunter Gatherer fore bearers. Our basic requirements to live a simple life have long surpassed rudimentary housing, organic food and hand-made clothes. That changed post-war during the mid-twentieth century. Our tastes as a society require home comforts, processed foods and high street fashion. Most of us don’t stop there, we change our décor every few years to keep up with the latest trends, our fridge-freezers are packed to capacity and we send our wardrobe cast-offs to the recycling centre and charity shops every season so we can buy more clothes. Our precious gift of freewill has been compromised by fear and desire. Fear of not having enough, and desire for more than what we could possibly need.

We are an evolving consciousness. We are a way for the universe to become aware of itself. With physical evolution, a natural change in environment prompts a species to evolve to adapt to the change in order to survive. As humans, we have brought about an ‘artificial’ change in our environment leading to climate change. The earth has responded by restricting human movement. To adapt and escape the confines of lockdown we need to change our thinking, how we relate to our environment. This is the evolution of consciousness required if we are to remain in harmony with the planet. It is up to every one of us to take responsibility for our thoughts, words and actions as they relate to others and our precious earth. As Gandhi said, we must be the change we want to see in the world.

Collette O’Mahony 24/04/2020

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