Letter to a Young Existentialist

Dear friend,
You have come to question what all of this means: your life and love, your toil and entertainment; your tears which give way to laughter which give way to tears all over again; the ceaseless frenzied activity that you’ve been invited to join – activity that you fear will only serve to keep you occupied until such time as you return to dust, as all of life, as mighty civilizations, as entire species inevitably turn to dust, over and over again.

Young friend, you now stand peering into the dark, cold abyss of meaninglessness. Congratulations! Yes, congratulations. For you, young friend, are alive – fully and truly alive. Oh, sure, we’re all alive (until, of course, we’re not), but to live nobly on the brink of this cold and dark abyss is to be fully and truly alive. This and this alone will be your rock.

I know, I know..., these words must hardly sound like the kind of rain that can turn the desert that you are feeling now into the richly forested certainty that you so crave. I know, as well, that you will turn your back on this abyss and set out for the horizon in search of the kind of rain that you think must surely be out there somewhere just beyond, just beyond. And you will find it.

Yes, you will find the rain that you now seek. It will pour down upon your face and cool your heated brow. It will quench your thirst and drip down off of your body to soak deep into the earth. Flowers to please the eye will sprout and bloom. Plants to nourish your body will grow and fruit. Your forest will grow, and within its shade and protection you will fall peacefully and easily into sleep.

But you will awaken once again. And when you awaken you will realize that the rain you thought was real was but belief, and the flowers and once-nourishing plants were but ideas that now lie lifeless all around you – in various stages of decay. Your forest will be gone, as if it had shrunk back into the desert earth from which it sprang after those welcome rains poured down. And beside you…, yes, as close to you as it is now, perhaps even closer for your sense of deep betrayal, will be the abyss.

And when that happens, just look down. No…, at your feet! Your rock has always been there – the rock of living nobly beside this dark and cold abyss. Look around you. Every eye that you gaze into belongs to someone who is trying just like you to live as nobly as they can beside this cold and dark abyss. Yes, there are many who, as you did, fell asleep amidst their forest. Their eyes are open, and yet they sleep. Be kind to them. Love them. Be of assistance to them. Become a part of their forest if that is what they truly need. We all need a glorious rest from time to time! And when they awaken, as you did, keenly aware of the abyss: Be kind to them. Love them. Be a companion to them. For you are fully and truly alive.


                     One who knows well the abyss...

Image Credits

Christ of the abyss image via:


Copyright 2013 by Mark Frank


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