Earlier this week my dad called me and asked how I was doing. I very un-melodramatically replied, Oh, I’m fine. Just drowning in existential crisis wondering what the purpose of my human existence is and why we’re all here and what the purpose is of my individual suffering and the global suffering we witness daily that I can’t make any sense of. Dad replies, Aha, I see…. cuz like what else are you supposed to say to your melodramatic but genuine daughter? I follow up with, Yeah, but I guess its pretty nice to have the free time to have an existential crisis. Because here’s the thing about them, when you’re caught up in questions about the purpose of existence, it gets pretty hard to follow-through on things in your day-to-day existence. I always think of this awesome youtube video where the guy is like, what’s the point of continuing to pour milk in my cereal when we’re on a giant ball of rock hurdling through space and I don’t know the point?! It’s like that. I know that these questions will likely wax and wane in their prominence for me throughout my life, so I have to make space for them now, but also keep perspective to not miss out on the life right in front of me.
So how do you keep perspective when in the grips of existential crisis? Well, I can’t tell ya for sure. There’s no magic button and I think it involves a bit of trial-and-error. But based on my own experiences, I am now convinced that it is a fundamental human right to sing and dance. The “quality” of it doesn’t matter, at least not for these purposes. There is something about the freedom of singing at the top of my lungs, rockin out with my fist microphone, dancing goofily in my kitchen, or flailing my unrestricted arms around to music in the car that just feels so good. For that however brief period of time, I’m totally in the moment and my insides feel totally ecstatic. And if I get to do this with a friend or two or three, the burst of joy is even bigger.
Will the Krill got it perfectly in Happy Feet 2:
Will the Krill: You hear that? They’re doing it again!
Bill the Krill: Doing what?
Will the Krill: This.
[starts to dance and laugh frantically]
Bill the Krill: Fascinating. What is it?
Will the Krill: I have no idea.
Bill the Krill: [starts to dance as well] Wow! What’s it for?
Will the Krill: Perhaps it’s a momentary relief from the existential terrors of existence.
Bill the Krill: Oh. [mumbles]
Will the Krill: What?
Bill the Krill: It brings out my happy!
So now I’m going to go pour some cereal and dance around my house jerkily with my superstiffinthemorning fibro body and sing pretty dang loud, even if it means the neighbors can hear me when they walk by the door. Because I’ll make myself laugh, and maybe I’ll make them laugh, and maybe then they’ll go close their own door and do the same. I think when we get courageous and deliberate enough to give ourselves unconditional permission to experience joy, we secretly let those around us know its ok for them to do the same. And if that’s all that I ever figure out in my existential crisis, well, I think that’s pretty darn great.