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STOIC POETRY | Making something of nothing

Updated: Sep 4, 2021

September 11, 2019

Dear Eric,

Nihilism's bad rap may stem from the idea's consequent necessity of doing something about it. As recognition that life has no apparent meaning comes with no ready answers whatsoever. We're left alone then to either stew in despair, or resolve to create meaning in spite of the fact. The former option is unattractive, while the latter option requires very much work. It's no wonder then that nihilism has such a bad name and reputation; for it is a dead-end alley which becomes our existential end or from which we must climb with great difficulty to escape. No wonder few choose this path... How much better to select another road, a seeming ready-made high-road to paradise, crowded with our friends and family and others who believe. Who wouldn't select that other road - or one of the millions like it - for the mere price of our credulity?

Nihilism isn't death And it isn't despair Or giving up Or futility Or neglect... It's just the realization That life has no apparent purpose And so, We must make some purpose up!

Make some purpose up... As if that were easy. But really, it's not too hard a thing to do. There are many models out there to look at - schools of thought, philosophy and religion which have given the matter good consideration and have produced premise, treaties and dogma to communicate what their perspective considers "good." Study these and bring on board the best of what you find. And then live... And while you live take care to learn from both your success and mistakes, and begin a catalog of the best of what you find. These will become your principles. Your own rules to live by in spite the universe offering no such objective guidance beyond mere survival and procreation. And then live your life by the seemingly virtuous rule of law you have formed.

Live your law and be always first to criticize your law. Share your principles with others. Ask their opinions regarding soundness, justice and virtue. Be eager to hear and attend all criticisms of what you have made. Prepare not to respond first in defense, but let your initial words be utterances of gratitude to the person who has challenged your belief. And then ask questions seeking your own clarity - really strive to understand what your critic is saying. And then depart to think. Go away to ponder if your challenged principle is truly unsound. And if not, then discard it utterly to the rubbish heap of failed virtue, or modify it if adjustment might salvage perceived virtue. And then go on through life with your improved understanding. Always grateful to those who help us to see better. Always willing to change our minds, our ways and our ideas to better suit reality and the pursuit of what we decide constitutes a well-lived life.


My name is Kurt Bell.

You can learn more about The Good Life in my book Going Alone.

Be safe... But not too safe.

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