Question from Michael:
Ever since puberty I have suffered from very heavy and constant depression. Having grown up with being nearly deaf, gay and somewhere between agnostic and atheist, I haven’t had a lot to fall back on in the way of faith, god and other such crutches, nor have I had many folks to speak candidly with. I don’t think I’m in search of a reason in the sense that others may be. I believe we are largely products of our society and upbringing (except where free thought and opinion manages to take us thru alternate routes) and subject to the firing of neurons and chemicals in our brains and little else. While some things about my life may suck a great deal, I find that when chemicals are on one side of the scale (be it nice weather, antidepressants, or other chemicals, legal or not–caffeine or alcohol for me) such things don’t bother me and I carry on with life, trying to be a good person, having fun and helping others…because that’s what I want out of life. But when chemicals are on the other side of the scale, I despise my body for its imperfect conditions (hearing and various other physical and mental issues), hate the general zombie-ness, close-mindedness and stupidity of society (tho I know I am far from perfect) and can hardly stand all of the wrongs and frustrations of the world and see little point of continuing on. Three things have kept me from ending my life….1) The sadness it would bring to my friends and family 2) The idea that killing myself could in the end be a terrible mistake (its a big decision to make and one that can not be undone, mind you) 3) My logic. I can tell myself that the feelings i am feeling are not normal….they are real feelings, but not necessarily a good indicator oh how things in my life are going. I remind myself that “all of this” is subjective…and tomorrow my outlook on life may be different.
Never the less I feel that some day my strength will wear away and I will have had all I can stand. The pain of being alive will overtake the three things that hold me to this world. It is also my belief that if one isn’t enjoying the party, one has the right to leave.
I feel as if I am waiting for my epiphany. Tonight I have learned of the Angelic quote “If nothing we do matters, then all that matters is what we do” It struck a chord and raises in me some curiosity and am giving things in that area some thought. My main question is…..”what is my question?”
Am I looking for reason? I don’t think so. If nothing really matters, then should I care when things don’t go the way I’d like them to? Perhaps if I quit wanting things, maybe I wouldn’t be so disappointed when I don’t get them? Should I go against the grain or with the grain? Is it worth it to fight for what I want, or just enjoy life and quit giving a crap about so many things? I guess my real question is, what do you guys think about such things?
Answer by SmartLX:
Firstly, folks, in case anyone gets the wrong idea about the “Angelic quote”, it’s from the TV show Angel and it was either written or approved by Joss Whedon, a confirmed atheist.
It doesn’t matter if “nothing really matters” in some absolute, ethereal sense, because we have no way to determine whether it does and it seems to have no measurable effect on us. The important point is that there are things that matter to us. They can be anything from justice to freedom to love to a completed set of baseball cards, but the things that drive us are defined and decided upon by us and us alone. Some people claim to have a “higher purpose”, one handed down from divine authority, but the words of these nebulous authorities can be traced back to humans and human institutions such as churches.
Quite simply, you sound like you don’t know your purpose in life, and I think that’s your question. You’re certainly not alone there; many are waiting for inspiration to strike and for their future course to become clear. Sometimes it comes, sometimes it doesn’t.
To go looking for it, go out and do stuff. Start with the obvious: you’re a deaf gay atheist (or near enough). Go meet other hearing-impaired, LGBT and/or non-religious people and see whether their causes (equality being the obvious one) appeal to you. Join clubs, read the news, try hobbies, whatever. What you’re doing now hasn’t given you ideas, so reach farther afield. It could be something as vague and all-encompassing as improving the world.
It need not just be one thing, by the way. My day-to-day purpose is to help my friends, family, co-workers and clients, to be good to my wife, to man this “post” for atheism and to experience different fantasies through art and fiction (though not all at once). Some of the goals involved in that lot are more long-term than others, and some are so far off I haven’t even thought of them today. Not too ambitious really, but it gets me out of bed.
Best of luck. Let us know how you do.
Question from Michael: