Crying over the heat death of the universe
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03-01-2017, 04:02 AM
RE: Crying over the heat death of the universe
Is there supposed to be some great meaning to life?

Is there supposed to be an eternal universe? (They haven't actually answered that question, by the way, though some of the maths seem to suggest the heat-death model as most likely.)

I don't mean to write off your pain as trivial or to be ignored, but I have never been able to understand those who get all wrapped up in disappointment that there's not some ultimate meaning.

So what if there isn't?

Meaning isn't lesser because we make it ourselves; it's greater. Because it is ours and we choose it.

I love what Ricky Gervais had to say about it.




"Theology made no provision for evolution. The biblical authors had missed the most important revelation of all! Could it be that they were not really privy to the thoughts of God?" - E. O. Wilson
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03-01-2017, 04:27 AM
RE: Crying over the heat death of the universe
(02-01-2017 02:42 PM)arethosemyfeet? Wrote:  Suicidal existential angst?

My 4 decade old angst hasn't gone away, ain't gonna go away. The suicidal bit didn't take though. Sartre took care of that.* The void is always there but it can wait until I'm done dancing. It's very patient. 'cause I'm a dancer.

Here's a dancing imp.





And then there's Matt. Matt is a very good dancer. Big Grin








* “The absurd man will not commit suicide; he wants to live, without relinquishing any of his certainty, without a future, without hope, without illusions … and without resignation either. He stares at death with passionate attention and this fascination liberates him. He experiences the “divine irresponsibility” of the condemned man.”

#sigh
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03-01-2017, 06:50 AM
RE: Crying over the heat death of the universe
It is not fair for you to try and shoulder the burden of the end of the universe yourself. The constant worry, and stress, will have an impact on your health both physicallly and mentally. It could potentially shorten your life expectancy.

There are many things we cannot control, but there are MUCH MORE things that we CAN control. I beat my own depression by changing focus from the things I cant control, to things that I can.

Have you tried writing a list down of the things that worry you, a specific list. You may find it suitable to share it here. Because there will be aspects that you can control.

I feel so much, and yet I feel nothing.
I am a rock, I am the sky, the birds and the trees and everything beyond.
I am the wind, in the fields in which I roar. I am the water, in which I drown.
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03-01-2017, 09:20 AM
RE: Crying over the heat death of the universe
Thank you to everyone for their kind responses. The crux of the problem is not that I don't know that there are healthier perspectives, but just that I have no idea - not the smallest clue - how to actually believe or follow them. I am aware that most people in the world don't feel like this, and I can listen, read, theorise what alternatives might feel like. But I have never been able to use this to change how I feel.

One of the reasons that I quit my most recent therapist is that we ended up going round and round in circles. She would make statements about how I needed to change my perspective or my feelings, and I would say "Okay. I don't know how to do this." And her answer would generally be along the lines "You just need to start to do this."

From the outside, obviously it seems that it would be easier to change myself than to change the entirety of the universe and all the laws of physics. But actually, on the inside, it doesn't seem like a different order of magnitude. "Enjoy life now" seems as mysterious and impossible as "work out a way to transcend time."

I have lived, mostly, an emotionally isolated life. I have been, and am, in a relationship, but I struggle to have feelings for people, even family. The only love I have ever felt is the kind that consumes rather than nourishes. In order to just get through life at all, I have created a complex inner world, and I can use that to simulate what positive emotions might be like. But in the real world, they are just concepts.

Jennybee: 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.

Of course. You are right and I know this. That's why I've come here.

Jennybee: 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.

I don't disagree at all. But actually, practically, how?

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

Unfortunately, I think I do it all. No sadness too small to hurt. From the baby mouse who died in my kitchen to the fate of the most massive super-galaxy and everything in between.

DLJ: You need to re-calibrate and find your equilibrium.

Also agreed. But how would you begin? What would be the first tiny step?

Morondog: Enjoy life now. You will die, we all will, but... since it is inevitable, why not have some fun first?

Can you break down for me what fun actually is? What it is to you, anyway? I seem to be very bad at it.

Morondog: Fuck ultimate meaning, what's wrong with something less grand?

Nothing at all. But what if you can't have that either? Sometimes it is easier to conceptualise the grand rather than the humble if both are absent.

Rocketsurgeon76:
I don't mean to write off your pain as trivial or to be ignored, but I have never been able to understand those who get all wrapped up in disappointment that there's not some ultimate meaning.

Because "life's a bitch and then you die" is not a philosophy that gets people out of bed in the morning? I understand that your solution is to create personal meaning and I am not implying that is not equally valid. But if you absolutely cannot understand what what it is like to feel the need of ultimate meaning, then you perhaps appreciate my inability to make sense of alien emotions in my own life.

Bemore: It is not fair for you to try and shoulder the burden of the end of the universe yourself.

That's very sweet of you to say. I think that is more or less what I try to do, even though it appears to make bugger-all sense. Why? Because I can't tell the nutshell from the infinite space.

I can't dance, btw, GirlyMan. Bad experiences in the past. Put me on a dancefloor, and my joints seize up, like the feeling in a nightmare when you're being chased. I just twitch awkwardly.

I don't believe that depression is a choice. I really don't. My therapist did and that was a point of contention. I am good at learning things cognitively. I can explore, weigh, test and accommodate new thoughts. But my emotions are much more confusing, unwieldy and slow, and I don't know how to feel new things. I have been in depressions for years, genuinely without a single good day. It has been five years since my last serious breakdown but "not-depressed" is not the same as "happy". I think for me, since I first became depressed, there is "unhappy" and "unaware" - there cannot be conscious happiness. That's not normal, is it?

I'm really not trying to be difficult or obstructive. I don't disagree with what is being said. But I have read many similar things said by other atheists and they have not - in themselves - helped me to move forward. If you have the patience, if you can try to imagine that you are explaining to an alien or a sentient plant or something, then could you possibly try to break your advice down to very, very small and practical steps? That might help to suggest a new path. Or at least try to quantify what helped you.

Does anyone remember The Great Blueness by Arnold Lobel? I'm in the world before the colours appear. I would appreciate help to find them, but I don't fully know what I'm looking for yet, and I need a more workable method than "it happened because." Thank you.
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03-01-2017, 09:32 AM
RE: Crying over the heat death of the universe
The thing I find hard to understand is why you dwell on it. I almost never think about the eventual heat-death of the universe; there is too much to do now.

Do you have any hobbies or play any sports or have anything to take up your time? Pick something you would enjoy doing right at the moment whether it is ultimately futile or not and concentrate on that. The fate of the universe is a long-term problem and worrying about it can be put off until tomorrow.

Atheism: it's not just for communists any more!
America July 4 1776 - November 8 2016 RIP
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03-01-2017, 09:50 AM
RE: Crying over the heat death of the universe
(03-01-2017 09:20 AM)arethosemyfeet? Wrote:  Thank you to everyone for their kind responses. The crux of the problem is not that I don't know that there are healthier perspectives, but just that I have no idea - not the smallest clue - how to actually believe or follow them. I am aware that most people in the world don't feel like this, and I can listen, read, theorise what alternatives might feel like. But I have never been able to use this to change how I feel.

One of the reasons that I quit my most recent therapist is that we ended up going round and round in circles. She would make statements about how I needed to change my perspective or my feelings, and I would say "Okay. I don't know how to do this." And her answer would generally be along the lines "You just need to start to do this."

From the outside, obviously it seems that it would be easier to change myself than to change the entirety of the universe and all the laws of physics. But actually, on the inside, it doesn't seem like a different order of magnitude. "Enjoy life now" seems as mysterious and impossible as "work out a way to transcend time."

I have lived, mostly, an emotionally isolated life. I have been, and am, in a relationship, but I struggle to have feelings for people, even family. The only love I have ever felt is the kind that consumes rather than nourishes. In order to just get through life at all, I have created a complex inner world, and I can use that to simulate what positive emotions might be like. But in the real world, they are just concepts.

Jennybee: 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.

Of course. You are right and I know this. That's why I've come here.

Jennybee: 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.

I don't disagree at all. But actually, practically, how?

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

Unfortunately, I think I do it all. No sadness too small to hurt. From the baby mouse who died in my kitchen to the fate of the most massive super-galaxy and everything in between.

DLJ: You need to re-calibrate and find your equilibrium.

Also agreed. But how would you begin? What would be the first tiny step?

Morondog: Enjoy life now. You will die, we all will, but... since it is inevitable, why not have some fun first?

Can you break down for me what fun actually is? What it is to you, anyway? I seem to be very bad at it.

Morondog: Fuck ultimate meaning, what's wrong with something less grand?

Nothing at all. But what if you can't have that either? Sometimes it is easier to conceptualise the grand rather than the humble if both are absent.

Rocketsurgeon76:
I don't mean to write off your pain as trivial or to be ignored, but I have never been able to understand those who get all wrapped up in disappointment that there's not some ultimate meaning.

Because "life's a bitch and then you die" is not a philosophy that gets people out of bed in the morning? I understand that your solution is to create personal meaning and I am not implying that is not equally valid. But if you absolutely cannot understand what what it is like to feel the need of ultimate meaning, then you perhaps appreciate my inability to make sense of alien emotions in my own life.

Bemore: It is not fair for you to try and shoulder the burden of the end of the universe yourself.

That's very sweet of you to say. I think that is more or less what I try to do, even though it appears to make bugger-all sense. Why? Because I can't tell the nutshell from the infinite space.

I can't dance, btw, GirlyMan. Bad experiences in the past. Put me on a dancefloor, and my joints seize up, like the feeling in a nightmare when you're being chased. I just twitch awkwardly.

I don't believe that depression is a choice. I really don't. My therapist did and that was a point of contention. I am good at learning things cognitively. I can explore, weigh, test and accommodate new thoughts. But my emotions are much more confusing, unwieldy and slow, and I don't know how to feel new things. I have been in depressions for years, genuinely without a single good day. It has been five years since my last serious breakdown but "not-depressed" is not the same as "happy". I think for me, since I first became depressed, there is "unhappy" and "unaware" - there cannot be conscious happiness. That's not normal, is it?

I'm really not trying to be difficult or obstructive. I don't disagree with what is being said. But I have read many similar things said by other atheists and they have not - in themselves - helped me to move forward. If you have the patience, if you can try to imagine that you are explaining to an alien or a sentient plant or something, then could you possibly try to break your advice down to very, very small and practical steps? That might help to suggest a new path. Or at least try to quantify what helped you.

Does anyone remember The Great Blueness by Arnold Lobel? I'm in the world before the colours appear. I would appreciate help to find them, but I don't fully know what I'm looking for yet, and I need a more workable method than "it happened because." Thank you.

Maybe journaling would be helpful. I know you said that you were into helping with conservation efforts. Maybe write down what you did each day (no matter how small) and how your actions impacted the world around you. When you feel like your efforts are futile, pull out your
journal and read through.

I like to start out every day with meditation. It helps clear my head of all the static. It helps provide me with clarity and balance. I think this would be helpful for you as well since it sounds like you have a very active mind. Meditation is a little bit of a vacation and helps quiet things down Wink *YouTube has the honest guys who have ah-mazing meditations.

As far as a practical approach to throwing perfection out the window: I like the ALL technique I learned from yoga. A- allow thoughts to come in. L-label them. L-let them go.

The labeling of thoughts is helpful because it allows your brain to reassess info. So instead of ugh, I didn't do that perfect enough. I'm not good enough. Remind yourself that this is one of the I must be perfect thoughts- a thought that doesn't serve you or anything else and is unattainable. Replace I have to be perfect with I'm doing the best I can. Doing the best you can is more than enough.
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03-01-2017, 10:17 AM
RE: Crying over the heat death of the universe
(03-01-2017 09:20 AM)arethosemyfeet? Wrote:  
DLJ Wrote:Your scope of empathy is wide and far. Too wide and far to notice the near and small... there is beauty in there too.

Unfortunately, I think I do it all. No sadness too small to hurt. From the baby mouse who died in my kitchen to the fate of the most massive super-galaxy and everything in between.

Ah! OK. Sounds like you've got an empathy imbalance.

Other than some chemical assistance, which I personally prefer to avoid, I reckon you have two choices. Think about how nurses manage to cope with all the suffering they witness daily:

a) Learn to compartmentalise - it's a mental exercise where you are imagining that you are physically placing the thoughts that distress you in a box in your mind and marking the box with a label.

b) Follow Blake's advice and go for overload: "You never know what is enough unless you know what is more than enough."
Perhaps a trip to the Philippines or to Cambodia (lots of charities looking for volunteers there) to experience ... well, I'm not going to preempt what you'll experience... but it will change you.

(03-01-2017 09:20 AM)arethosemyfeet? Wrote:  
DLJ Wrote:You need to re-calibrate and find your equilibrium.

Also agreed. But how would you begin? What would be the first tiny step?
...

Wanting to ... is the first step.

(03-01-2017 09:20 AM)arethosemyfeet? Wrote:  ...
I can't dance, btw, GirlyMan.
...

Both Girly and I were using the same metaphor. Not literal dancing... although being literal for a moment: you don't have to be able to dance to want to dance. It's the wanting that counts.

(03-01-2017 09:20 AM)arethosemyfeet? Wrote:  ...
Or at least try to quantify what helped you.
...

You and I are not the same. Our baselines are different, our tolerance thresholds are different and most likely, our coping mechanisms will be different.

For me, it usually involves consuming less wheat, cuddling naked firm-breasted Asian girls and writing (the irony being that I write best (and most) when doped on wheat).

Here's an example of cathartic writing after coming through a re-calibration after a major life change 10 years ago ... just as another example of the same 'dance' metaphor:

Learning To Dance Again

With some effort, we’re
learning to dance again

The steps
once easy
but now …
so many years

We’ve forgotten how
to move
to invent
to hear our music

New dance partners
New steps

Not too fast,
not too quick, quick
slowly does it.

He leads

Light on the toes
hand on arm
fingers touch
sway to the rhythm
movement in the hips

Off we go

Make her spin

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03-01-2017, 10:18 AM
RE: Crying over the heat death of the universe
(03-01-2017 09:32 AM)unfogged Wrote:  The thing I find hard to understand is why you dwell on it. I almost never think about the eventual heat-death of the universe; there is too much to do now.

The dwelling doesn't feel volitional. Nothing else is hold my attention at the moment. I can't focus on conversations and television is washing over me. It is difficult to convey how immediate and urgent this feels, when it seems so unimaginably distant and abstract to most people.

Quote:Do you have any hobbies or play any sports or have anything to take up your time? Pick something you would enjoy doing right at the moment whether it is ultimately futile or not and concentrate on that. The fate of the universe is a long-term problem and worrying about it can be put off until tomorrow.

I have a full-time job, with lots of projects that I'm very behind on, and a million other pressing tasks to do outside of work. Certainly not lacking real things to do. With work and commuting, I don't really have time for hobbies any more, or at least there is nothing that I enjoy sufficiently to make it a priority. Lack of pleasure in anything is definitely an issue, but long-term anhedonia is not uncommon in depressives. It makes it really hard to displace emotional crises. I may well be doing the thing that I un-enjoy least at the moment, if that makes any sense at all.

I am not trying to defend my feelings or actions as right, proportional or appropriate. Far from it. Just, it would be hard to seek help without saying saying how things truly feel to me, as far as I can even express that.

Jennybee... Thank you for your suggestions. I have been advised to try meditation in the past but have also had some bad experiences with people trying to force "mindfulness" on me in completely inappropriate ways and at inappropriate times. Mindfulness has become a bit of an obsession in some areas of British mental health and it just ended up making me want to hit people with hammers. So I need to see if I can reclaim meditation for myself and separate it from the more problematic proselytisers. It sounds as if your approach has been about making it work for you, and I will try to be open-minded and see if I can do the same.
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03-01-2017, 10:25 AM
RE: Crying over the heat death of the universe
I tend to take the attitude of Walter Sobchak in such matters, "Fuck it, Dude. Let's go bowling."

I actually find the inevitable demise of EVERYTHING to be somewhat liberating! If we're just riding the fuse of a cosmological bottle rocket I try to enjoy it while it lasts.

In full knowledge of the temporary nature of it all I find the daily rituals and worries we put ourselves through to be refreshingly absurd. It's all just a ridiculous funhouse. Laugh to keep from crying I say.
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03-01-2017, 10:34 AM
RE: Crying over the heat death of the universe
(03-01-2017 10:18 AM)arethosemyfeet? Wrote:  
(03-01-2017 09:32 AM)unfogged Wrote:  The thing I find hard to understand is why you dwell on it. I almost never think about the eventual heat-death of the universe; there is too much to do now.

The dwelling doesn't feel volitional. Nothing else is hold my attention at the moment. I can't focus on conversations and television is washing over me. It is difficult to convey how immediate and urgent this feels, when it seems so unimaginably distant and abstract to most people.

Quote:Do you have any hobbies or play any sports or have anything to take up your time? Pick something you would enjoy doing right at the moment whether it is ultimately futile or not and concentrate on that. The fate of the universe is a long-term problem and worrying about it can be put off until tomorrow.

I have a full-time job, with lots of projects that I'm very behind on, and a million other pressing tasks to do outside of work. Certainly not lacking real things to do. With work and commuting, I don't really have time for hobbies any more, or at least there is nothing that I enjoy sufficiently to make it a priority. Lack of pleasure in anything is definitely an issue, but long-term anhedonia is not uncommon in depressives. It makes it really hard to displace emotional crises. I may well be doing the thing that I un-enjoy least at the moment, if that makes any sense at all.

I am not trying to defend my feelings or actions as right, proportional or appropriate. Far from it. Just, it would be hard to seek help without saying saying how things truly feel to me, as far as I can even express that.

Jennybee... Thank you for your suggestions. I have been advised to try meditation in the past but have also had some bad experiences with people trying to force "mindfulness" on me in completely inappropriate ways and at inappropriate times. Mindfulness has become a bit of an obsession in some areas of British mental health and it just ended up making me want to hit people with hammers. So I need to see if I can reclaim meditation for myself and separate it from the more problematic proselytisers. It sounds as if your approach has been about making it work for you, and I will try to be open-minded and see if I can do the same.

*Forcing* mindfulness is the exact opposite of real meditation. Anyone who was advocating that doesn't understand the purpose of meditation.

Meditation is about putting yourself into a state to where you can relax. Is mindfulness a part of that? Sure. But it's not something that is forced. It's something that *can* occur naturally if you are in a relaxed and contemplative state.

Go into meditation with the express purpose of calming your mind. That's it. Everything else will fall into place without forcing. And if you don't want to be mindful or contemplative, that's okay too. There are plenty of meditations where you just zone out and chant or focus on your breath or think about relaxing scenery etc.
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