Crying over the heat death of the universe
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02-01-2017, 02:42 PM (This post was last modified: 02-01-2017 02:54 PM by arethosemyfeet?.)
Crying over the heat death of the universe
Hello... I joined here years ago but then never really did much with my membership. The intervening time has been full, though not with anything of consequence.

So. How to explain? Depressed since childhood - at least since the age of 11, probably before. Atheist since age 14 or so. I don't think atheism has made me depressed but it colours my depression.

Twenty years ago, at the age of 18, at almost exactly this time of year and in the midst of my first serious breakdown, I read A Brief History of Time. Despite being already aware of some of the concepts in it, it crystallised fears about the end of the world and the end of the universe and threw me into a state of - what? Suicidal existential angst? Which is almost impossible to talk about to most people, because the fate of the universe is too vast and distant a prospect to be thought relevant.

Two decades on, and I feel I have yet to acquire any useful perspective on this. I have read smug theists talking about the hypocrisy or cognitive dissonance inherent in the atheist worldview, saying that if any truly followed their beliefs to their logical conclusion, they would be paralysed with despair at the futility of life. Although it's not a constant state, I feel that I *am* this fictional atheist, and also feel that I'm letting the godless community and all happy and fulfilled atheists down.

All the causes I care about relate to conservation, preservation, restoration and protection. All are ultimately hopeless in terms of eventual prospects for this planet, the species and the cosmos. I have never really enjoyed life, even as quite a young child, which makes it hard to create any personal meaning without a concept of legacy. Believing that this life is all you have, and that you are fucking it up badly is pretty much the worst of all worlds.

People ask why worry about things you can't change? Because I can't change them, obviously. (I also worry about things I can change, but in a different way, yay.) I can deal with my own death but I have no idea how to deal with the deaths of all living beings, the destruction of all beauty and the death of all knowledge in the universe. It's hard, sometimes, not to see death or destruction in all things. And how can you form relationships with things that are already lost?

I don't want my childhood Christianity back. I think that this is the way that life is. I just don't know how to cope with it. I have had decades of medication and years of therapy, and I am still sitting here literally crying at the thought of everything ending in the void. Why is this so hard and why am I so stupid?
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02-01-2017, 02:59 PM
RE: Crying over the heat death of the universe
Hello!

Hug
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02-01-2017, 03:00 PM
RE: Crying over the heat death of the universe
I'm 21 right now and your post describes my own feelings and struggles so well that I would have thought it was my own if it weren't for the references to your age. Maybe talking to someone who feels the same way as you do will help you a little bit.

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02-01-2017, 03:02 PM
RE: Crying over the heat death of the universe
Hi and Welcome Smile Also *hugs*

First, you're not stupid or letting anyone in the atheist community down. All of this is a process, especially after (particularly childhood) brainwashing by the Christian faith. Religious Trauma Syndrome is a real thing--maybe it would help to talk to a therapist who deals with this?

I think it's great that you care about conservation, preservation, restoration and protection. These are not useless endeavors. We can slow the progression of a variety of things by being active in these pursuits. How is that not a legacy?

"Let the waters settle and you will see the moon and stars mirrored in your own being." -Rumi
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02-01-2017, 03:11 PM
RE: Crying over the heat death of the universe
You aren't stupid and you aren't letting anybody down. You say you've tried therapy but it sounds like you need to keep trying until you find a program that helps. Everybody is different and you need to find something that works for you.

As for the end of the universe, it does appear to be inevitable but there are many billions of years before then and who knows what will be figured out during that time. Just because we see an unavoidable end with our limited knowledge doesn't mean squat. Even if it does, do you not enjoy a good meal or a gathering with friends or some good music or a book or whatever because it won't last forever? The important thing is to make the most of what you have while you can.

You can't form relationships with things that are already lost but you can form relationships with things that are here now. The idea that they will someday not exist doesn't change the fact that you can enjoy them now and work to make the time available as long and as productive as possible.

The last point is that you aren't responsible for all living things or the universe or anything more than your own life and that of the others that you make a part of it. If you make the most of it that you can then you have succeeded. When something is truly out of your control then it is no longer your problem.

Atheism: it's not just for communists any more!
America July 4 1776 - November 8 2016 RIP
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02-01-2017, 06:52 PM (This post was last modified: 02-01-2017 07:24 PM by arethosemyfeet?.)
RE: Crying over the heat death of the universe
(02-01-2017 02:59 PM)Peebothuhul Wrote:  Hello!

Hello Smile And *hugs*.

(02-01-2017 03:00 PM)Vosur Wrote:  Maybe talking to someone who feels the same way as you do will help you a little bit.

And vice versa, I hope. If it helps, I mostly cope better now than when I was 21.

(02-01-2017 03:02 PM)jennybee Wrote:  Hi and Welcome Smile Also *hugs*

First, you're not stupid or letting anyone in the atheist community down. All of this is a process, especially after (particularly childhood) brainwashing by the Christian faith. Religious Trauma Syndrome is a real thing--maybe it would help to talk to a therapist who deals with this?

*Hugs back* To be fair, I think my indoctrination was much less than for many. I am the child of an absolute atheist and an increasingly doubtful agnostic. Christianity was mostly picked up through school (and not even church aided/controlled schools). We do have school prayer in the UK, though. If and when I return to therapy, it is certainly something to be considered.

(02-01-2017 03:02 PM)jennybee Wrote:  I think it's great that you care about conservation, preservation, restoration and protection. These are not useless endeavors. We can slow the progression of a variety of things by being active in these pursuits. How is that not a legacy?

Because ultimately there won't be any traces left of the things I try to save? Because I am not very good at valuing my own effort or process if it doesn't yield the right result? Logically I know that even if mankind did not exist, there would still be changes in climate over time, species would still become extinct, landscapes would erode and stars would die - that this would be the natural order of things. But I grieve for everything lost nonetheless.

(02-01-2017 03:11 PM)unfogged Wrote:  ...do you not enjoy a good meal or a gathering with friends or some good music or a book or whatever because it won't last forever?

I'm afraid when I'm feeling like this, I don't really enjoy anything. Every meal is eating deforestation, pollution and waste (plus cancer, heart disease and obesity). Books and music speak of things that are lost, that I will never experience or that can't exist. Everything valued feels vulnerable. Everything makes me sadder.

Friends... are hard to come by. I am less socially awkward than I used to be, but I find it difficult to share my deepest thoughts and feelings (like these) with most people. They don't understand me and I don't truly understand them, so it is difficult to be myself or feel connected. For most of my life, few people have really seemed to want my company, so I am always cautious to impose it on anyone.

(02-01-2017 03:11 PM)unfogged Wrote:  The last point is that you aren't responsible for all living things or the universe or anything more than your own life and that of the others that you make a part of it. If you make the most of it that you can then you have succeeded. When something is truly out of your control then it is no longer your problem.

I take your point, but all wildlife and nature conservation involves humans assuming responsibility for living things. I am probably not very good at knowing where my responsibility or control should end, but if *somebody* is working to preserve something or solve a problem, I tend to think I could and should also be involved.

I have definitely, and unhelpfully, inherited my parents' perfectionism, especially from my dad (the atheist) who lived by a very rigid code of personal responsibility, discipline and emotional repression until he had a huge psychotic breakdown a few years ago. I am also (for a range of reasons, including my dad's minimalist ethos) a fairly serious hoarder. The idea of losing things haunts my nightmares - the absolute end and loss of everything horrifies me in the most profound way.

My last therapist was extremely problematic and ultimately counter-productive, and she didn't really help with any of this, but apparently I have a very unusual range of issues. It's hard to find someone who can tackle one, let alone all of them. Lots of strange things floating in my headsoup.
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02-01-2017, 07:29 PM
RE: Crying over the heat death of the universe
(02-01-2017 06:52 PM)arethosemyfeet? Wrote:  Because ultimately there won't be any traces left of the things I try to save? Because I am not very good at valuing my own effort or process if it doesn't yield the right result? Logically I know that even if mankind did not exist, there would still be changes in climate over time, species would still become extinct, landscapes would erode and stars would die - that this would be the natural order of things. But I grieve for everything lost nonetheless.

But grieving for things that will be lost takes the beauty and love and living out of today. It sucks the passion out of all of your efforts to make things better for animals, trees, ecosystems, and people who are here now.

Throw perfection out the window. It's an impossible standard to maintain and not fair to yourself and does nothing to honor all the things you do do.

One of my favorite yoga mantras is Be Here Now. Death is not here now. Living is. Be present and focus on what you are doing in the here and now. That's what your impetus to do things should be--not on death and destruction--but on life. Valuing life, protecting life.

You can only do what you can do to make things better, you can't change the numerous possibilities in the future of things that may or may not happen; things we have no control over.

Instead, think about what your efforts are doing today. Right now. For instance, I saved two puppies awhile back some asshole dumped off on the side of the road. Two emaciated and scared puppies who were freezing and starving are now living a happy and healthy existence as my little (well, big now Tongue ) buddies. They are happy, healthy, and safe and none of that may have happened if they hadn't crossed my path.

You may not be able to save the world, but you can help make better what is around you today. Let that be your driving force. It's okay not to have control over everything, you've just conditioned yourself to think that there is no other option, but there is, and even though it might be difficult at first, you can change the way you view things.

"Let the waters settle and you will see the moon and stars mirrored in your own being." -Rumi
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02-01-2017, 08:01 PM (This post was last modified: 02-01-2017 08:11 PM by Fireball.)
RE: Crying over the heat death of the universe
First of all, a ton of likes for Jenny's post, though I can only document one. The sheer size of the universe does make me feel small, when I consider it. How could it be otherwise? I come at this from a different angle, though. I see it, and feel small, but shrug my shoulders and get on with the business of my life. There's nothing I can do that will change it. Neither can anyone else. Find something that interests you and pursue it with a vengeance. There is nothing you can do to change what will eventually happen; your life is too short. Scoop out some meaning of your own.
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03-01-2017, 02:19 AM (This post was last modified: 03-01-2017 04:20 AM by DLJ.)
RE: Crying over the heat death of the universe
I can relate. Completely.

And yes ... nihilism sucks.

But remember ... "Brooklyn is not expanding."





You came from the stars and will return there.

The universe will outlive you. You know you can't live forever. And who wants to anyway?





Your scope of empathy is wide and far. Too wide and far to notice the near and small... there is beauty in there too.

You need to re-calibrate and find your equilibrium.

Learn to dance...

The dance of survival - don't grieve for the lost; experience the living.
The dance of the flesh - discover your boundaries
The dance of the mind - let your dreams become your legacy.

Wink

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03-01-2017, 03:01 AM
RE: Crying over the heat death of the universe
Enjoy life now. You will die, we all will, but... since it is inevitable, why not have some fun first? You can worry about dying on the day you actually die. As for everything being impermanent, well, that's how it is. We really can't do a damn thing about it. Existence is somewhat absurd. Life has a meaning for me, even if all that I do will ultimately fizzle away to nothing. It's a meaning of loving my friends and family, having a good time while I'm alive and doing something I consider worthwhile. Maybe making some art, playing a good tune, putting a smile on someone's face. Simple, small things. Fuck ultimate meaning, what's wrong with something less grand?

We'll love you just the way you are
If you're perfect -- Alanis Morissette
(06-02-2014 03:47 PM)Momsurroundedbyboys Wrote:  And I'm giving myself a conclusion again from all the facepalming.
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