Did My Crippling Nihilism Just Cripple My Nihilism?

Michael Francis
7 min readJun 24, 2019

I have long observed that Buddhists were onto something with this “life is suffering” hook. I feel it in my bones, and nothing about my life, in the context of human existence, is even close to hard. The day to day is, to borrow a phrase, a suffer.

For years I disagreed with them about the best way to handle it. They say to confront and accept the universal truth that life is suffering; I found the distraction that alcohol, recreational drugs and otherwise compulsive addictive selfish pursuits is far preferable to staring down that suffering, fully aware and fully exposed.

This doesn’t look like it should be a hard choice… (Image Credits: The Rich List, From The Grapevine)

Part of my drive for distraction comes from my not insignificant struggle with nihilism. What started as whispers of “what’s it all for?” in my early twenties has matured to full blown existential dread surrounding the socioeconomic, thermonuclear and global climate threats our specie will face in the next 150 years. I think that there’s a decent chance I will suffer some form of doomsday scenario (I’m nothing if not a little self-important), and that it is a near certainty that humanity will cease to exist inside of two centuries.

Smile for the flash! (Image Credit: Radiation Cinema)

Pretty bleak, I know.

But yesterday (literally yesterday, it’s been a strange week), I realized that my nihilism about the immediate future of humanity was self defeating. That, just as this drab outlook has robbed the reason and purpose from most of my other thoughts and motivations, it must then also undermine nihilism itself.

Nihilism x Nihilism = Relief

There are two outcomes to my sincerely held belief: either the world ends in my lifetime, or the world ends just outside of my lifetime. No matter which, it actually makes today absurdly bright.

The Last Generation

Take the example of the world ending in my lifetime. This, the worst case scenario shouldn’t inspire any sort of relief, right?

It’s 2051, and as I approach my 65th birthday, I whither away underneath the stifling blanket of a nuclear winter. My death is both unremarkable and…