Hobbes was kind of right – we live pretty sad lives. If we’re lucky, we may live until we’re 80. But 1/3 of that will be spent sleeping and we’ll have to constantly feed and take care of ourselves, lest we die. Oh, and we have to avoid diseases, cars, guns, and things like brain aneurysms. And how many of those years will be quality years, where our brain can function enough to truly enjoy life?
We are constantly reminded of the frailty of man, and it’s a wonder humans have accomplished so much despite our limitations. Much of progress was done by a select few, the Einsteins and Teslas, but the majority of us just carry on the status quo. The same is true on the opposite end of the spectrum, where the world has almost been wiped out thanks to the Maos and Adolfs. Of course, all these pivotal people had glaring weaknesses.
Take your parents. When you were a kid you probably thought they knew and could do everything. As you grew older, you realized more and more how normal they are. No longer invincible, they even seem incapable and incompetent by the time you’re an adult. Naturally, we are destined to repeat the process until our miserable demise. Out of anything but pessimism, the reality is that of the few decades our minds are capable and our bodies productive, we spend them working 40-60 hour weeks upon reaching retirement where both slowly decay. It’s hard to find positivity in the roles we fill.
What can we do about the lucklessness of the human condition? Perhaps the only way we know how – by creating meaning. With the odds against us and facing constant obstacles, humans always find a way to prevail. In the modern world we must do the same, albeit in a different way. Our lives may be brutish, short, and possibly nasty, but they needn’t be unfun or meaningless. Finding joy in the present and giving life purpose through whatever cause, maybe helping people, is dignified and always will be. And to reach that point we need to continue searching for our individualistic meaning, through art, philosophy, and the people around us. In a way we can never overcome the facts of life, but we can always ascribe something greater to our existence, and that is a great motivator.