Some like to think of humans as social beings. And that is certainly true, at least on some level. After all, we stem from from chimpanzees which are known for living their lives in packs.
But ever since we got out of the primates’ animalistic daze, and developed self-awareness, we have also been completely alone. Of course, some like to imagine that they live for their children, their career, their friends or their partner. But all these are external factors. They can affect us and motivate us to live, in fact to such an extent that for some they can justify their very existence.
But what have you really been reduced to if you live for something outside yourself? If you take away all social networks, all career ambitions, all familial relations, you’re left with the essence of what constitutes the actual human existence: yourself.
A mammal of flesh and blood, one in the series of several billion that have gone in the same places, seen the same stars, breathed the same air, drunk the same water. And whatever you do, it is unlikely that you will be able to make any major difference to the history of the world during the time you’ve been awarded.
You can produce a child or two, procreation. Of course. But how genuine and meaningful is that by and large? The earth’s population density has reached seven billion people and at least eighty percent live on less than ten dollars a day. If one is to be politically incorrect – as one should be – it’s not difficult to propose that you’d be more beneficial to humanity if you killed people surrounding you rather than producing more. At least if you are among the twenty richest percent of the globe.
You can work your way up some career ladder, and get well paid to be the boss of other people. Or work as a charwoman, pizza baker, stewardess, pilot, chef, waiter or auto mechanic. Maybe start your own company? Many of these occupations are service occupations, where you get paid to provide a service. But you would have to be especially lucky or exceptionally skilled to achieve anything other than to continue the status quo. If you aren’t there to fix the engine of a car that’s broken down, there will always be someone else willing and able to perform that task.
It is possible to find a partner in your lifetime, maybe even a soulmate. Someone you really care about. If you’re extra lucky, they care for you too. Many end up making themselves dependent on another human being, more than on just an emotional level. Love, they say, is about more than just sex, more than just nice conversations, more than simply proclaiming that you love one another;
It’s about deciding who will take the dishes after dinner, bringing in the mail, sharing the bills and buying food. It is about giving each other presents for birthdays and Christmas, giving each other hugs and kisses before leaving each other, and it’s about stroking one another’s hair.
But if you go back to the core, back to the very essence of existence, you are only accountable to yourself. If you can’t justify your existence to yourself, regardless of external factors, you might as well lie down and die. Stop breathing.
Then you’re nothing more than a mammal of flesh and blood, stripped of meaning and purpose. One in a series of several billion that have gone in the same places, seen the same stars, breathed the same air, drunk the same water.