In his book The Gay Science, philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche poses the following thought experiment:
What if some day or night a demon were to steal after you into your loneliest loneliness and say to you: “This life as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more; and there will be nothing new in it, but every pain and every joy and every thought and sigh and everything unutterably small or great in your life will have to return to you, all in the same succession and sequence – even this spider and this moonlight between the trees, and even this moment and I myself. The eternal hourglass of existence is turned upside down again and again, and you with it, speck of dust!”
Would you not throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse the demon who spoke thus?… Or how well disposed would you have to become to yourself and to life to crave nothing more fervently than this ultimate eternal confirmation and seal?
It’s something to consider. If you had to live your life over and over for infinity, would you consider it a punishment for a life squandered or a reward for a life well-lived?
I can think of periods of my life when I was very unhappy. I’ve struggled with depression. I’ve worked too many bottomless pit jobs to count. I’ve been broke (and usually still am).
However, I’d gladly endure all of those dark times to experience my life the way that it is now. I’d take my knocks for eternity for the opportunity to re-live the here and now.
What’s the difference between those unhappy times and these days?
I’ve actively chosen the life I’m living now. No. Let me re-phrase that: I actively choose each day the life I’m living now.
For decades, I did the things I was supposed to do, the things that were expected of me. It wasn’t until I began to obstinately do the things that I want to do without worrying about others’ expectations that I really began to live in a way that thrills me.
It makes sense, doesn’t it? If we all live the way we’re supposed to live, we’ll all be living the same life. It may fit some of us, but it certainly wouldn’t fit us all.
I wish for you a life that you would happily live a million more times.