One of my friends once told me: “I’ve got nothing; I’ve got nothing to lose.”
Another friend of mine told me that life is about losing; you lose everything, until you finally lose your own life.
The first friend has a spiritual view on life; the second one has an existentialist perspective.
Let’s be spiritual!
When you were born, you were empty-handed. You didn’t even have clothes on you; you didn’t bring anything with you from your mother’s womb. You don’t remember to have signed a contract with a Higher Force to do this or that. The only value you initially had was you own life; this was given to you and will be taken back from you at some point in the future. There is no escape from this. You will die. Therefore, everything you think you have at this very moment is an illusion. It was borrowed from the World. Even your body is made from material elements that come from this Earth, so in fact your body is not yours at all; it belongs to the Earth, it’s only given to you so as to use it for your experience or passage on the face of the Earth. You will have to return it back to the Earth, one way or the other. You can’t take it with you in the afterlife.
Since you obviously have nothing, there is nothing you could possibly lose, since it’s not yours. You only lose illusions.
Let’s change perspective!
Your life is a matter of losing stuff. The first time you lose a tooth, for instance, you begin to witness the decay of your body. The first wrinkle probably has the same effect for many. The white hair is a silent reminder that you’re one step closer to death. Then you begin to lose friends, family members, loved ones. This process leaves scars in your soul and sometimes empty spaces that can’t be filled forever. You lose your jobs and in the end you become a pensioner and lose the ability to do your job forever. You lose your professional status and, after a while, your social functions as well. You may end up in a care-home for senior citizens, forgotten by everybody. These losses can be seen by everyone, but let’s move to something worse.
At some point in life you lose your ability to adapt to new things. You lose your authority on your children; you lose a lot of your power on others (in case you thought you had one). You may lose your sense of freedom; you may lose many of your beliefs, even the meaning of your life. You lose hope that things could be better, you lose your desires, your patience, you control, your motivation, your determination, your dignity, your curiosity, your creativity, your roles, your credibility, your beauty… You may also lose your ability to react in an authentic way, your ability to feel emotions, your future plans, your fantasies, your dreams, your ability to choose. With the passing of time, you may lose your memories if you get Alzheimer’s disease, but you may also lose the memory of a loved one that used to live in you and you’ll probably feel guilty for this…
And if I want to be absolutely mean… you’re losing something at this very moment. You’ve chosen to read my article, but while you do this, you lose other opportunities to do something different. You had to choose between several options, and by choosing to read my text, you lost all your other options. This is the tough reality: when you choose, you lose. You lose the other options, the ones you didn’t choose. And if you decide not to choose anything, saying to yourself that you didn’t make up your mind yet and prefer to remain in a “grey area” of possibilities and potentialities, you still lose. By waiting, you lose something else: YOU LOSE YOUR TIME, THE TIME OF YOUR LIFE! YOU PAY YOUR DOUBT WITH YOUR TIME!
So, here are the 2 perspectives. They’re clashing on each other. They use different frames. The spiritual view says it’s impossible to lose anything, the existentialists say we lose everything. The spiritual path goes towards peace and serenity, the existentialist path is loaded with a lot of anxiety or angst. Oscillating between the 2 viewpoints adds ambiguity in a life that didn’t come with instructions, a life in which we have the responsibility and the freedom to choose, despite not choosing to be born. 🙂