Let each one examine his thoughts, and he will find them all occupied with the past and the future. We scarcely ever think of the present; and if we think of it, it is only to take light from it to arrange the future. The present is never our end. The past and the present are our means; the future alone is our end. So we never live, but we hope to live; and, as we are always preparing to be happy, it is inevitable we should never be so.
This is true. I’ve never ever lived for the moment. I’ve always been planning. Waiting for the time of my life to come and that’s when I’ll be happy, I say to myself.
Why has this been so? I find that if you believe in a higher being, it’s easy to succumb to the sloth of being unaccountable, to yourself, your actions and the consequences you bring to the world around you. Because inevitably, trust in this ‘predestination’ or design comes with the ideology. So, what you are going to do and what’s to happen because of it is bound to happen, you think. I was hugely guilty of this. I walked through life thinking ‘if it’s meant to be, God will see to it’. When I couldn’t find my NKF donation card for about 2 hours, I knelt in front of the Buddha statuette in my living room for close to an hour, beseeching God to help me find it. I walked into my room and found it behind one of the drawers I had frantically opened at least 5 times. How can I, as an atheist now, explain that? I can’t. Except to say, human error and oversight. Will you find that explanation plausible? Actually, it does huh? To an atheist.
When I believed in God, I believed that God would most probably make my life good. One day. I had to be good enough, miserable enough now, to probably justify my future boon. And I couldn’t be complacent. If I see everything I have and everything that happens at present as something bad or not good enough, something good is bound to come my way right? (That’s my warped mentality, don’t ask me why. That’s why I’m such a pessimist. I’ve conditioned myself.) So if I got an A for a paper, or if my teacher extolled my essay in class, I just did average, it was pure luck. If I had a great exam, I told everyone I’m gonna scrape for that paper. I simply refused to believe anything good at present. Ah but here’s the problem. When will the present actually become the future? If you live in the future, you might find that the future never arrives. I just realized that!
I may not yet be able to define existentialism accurately but I think I have an inkling of what it constitutes. At least, I think it says we create the meaning in our lives. Wikipedia gives an analogy of one standing at the edge of the cliff. At that point, we experience our profound freedom. Nothing predetermines if we should fling ourselves off the cliff or step back. So life is absurd, existence is pointless, but I am responsible for the choices I make. I am responsible for my existence while I am thinking and feeling. Maybe I should stop living in the future and zap myself back to the present because it makes sense! How can I not have seen that? I have the present, it is the assets I hold in my hands. The future is an investment, a gamble even, I might not even get it back. What if I sell out like Merrill Lynch? Boh hua! Haha.