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Existential Bummer by Jason Silva

Impermanence is a really real thing, because I see its transience. There’s a sadness to the ecstasy.

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Man is literally split in two:

He has an awareness of his own splendid uniqueness in that he sticks out of nature with towering majesty, and yet he goes back into the ground a few feet in order blindly and dumbly to rot and disappear forever.' -Ernest Becker

Transcript from video ---

So there’s a great essay written by Sigmund Freud called “On Transience.”

And in it, he cites a conversation that he had with the poet, Rilke, as they were walking along this beautiful garden. And at one point, Rilke looked like he was about to tear up. And Freud said, what’s wrong? It’s a beautiful day. There’s beautiful plants around us. This is magnificent. And then Rilke says, well, I can’t get over the fact that one day all of this is going to die.

All these trees, all these plants, all this life is going to decay. Everything dissolves in meaninglessness when you think about the fact that impermanence is a really real thing. Perhaps the greatest existential bummer of all is entropy.

And I was really struck by this, because perhaps that’s why, when we’re in love, we’re also kind of sad. There’s a sadness to the ecstasy. Beautiful things sometimes can make us a little sad. And it’s because what they hint at is the exception, a vision of something more, a vision of a hidden door, a rabbit hole to fall through, but a temporary one. And I think, ultimately, that is kind of the tragedy. That is why love simultaneously fills us with melancholy.

That’s why sometimes I feel nostalgic over something I haven’t lost yet, because I see its transience. And so how does one respond to this? Do we love harder? Do we squeeze tighter? Or do we embrace the Buddhist creed of no attachment? Do we pretend not to care that everything and everyone we know is going to be taken away from us? And I don’t know if I can accept that.

I think I more side with the Dylan Thomas quote that says, “I will not go quietly into that good night, but instead rage against the dying of the light”.

I think that we defy entropy and impermanence with our films and our poems. I think we hold onto each other a little harder and say, “I will not let go. I do not accept the ephemeral nature of this moment. I’m going to extend it forever. Or at least I’m going to try.”

What is a provocation or insight that might inspire others during this challenge?

The world around us including all its people are impermanent and fragile which is a cause for both sadness and joy.

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