άθλημα-ism (áthli̱maism)
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March 11th, 2022

Origins

As I write this, I seek answers. I seek truth. I seek understanding. As I write this I try to develop a sense of clarity about what I seek.

This little essay that I write, isn’t something that I write to preach, rather something I write to seek. I write to clarify my overwhelmed mind that seeks the meaning.

And άθλημα-ism (áthli̱maism) is a rather a misleading title for my quest to seek truth, cause it doesn’t give the whole picture, rather presents an unbaked answer.

A man’s search for meaning

About 2 months ago, I actively started seeking the meaning and motivations of my life. It was because a particular man, let’s call him x, told me to do so.

“Figure out what you want out of life,” he said

and thus began the quest for the question that I never wanted to answer. Not because I didn’t know the answer to it, but because I didn’t want to accept it.

This wasn’t my first time experiencing the existential dread and neither this was a hard question. But now I knew it was important for me to confront it. I knew I couldn’t postpone this any later. I don’t know why myself? Neither I knew this man from a long time nor he was very close to me, but he spoke as if a saint would do. He spoke as if he has been through what I am going through, as if he knew what I was seeking.

And thus began a man’s search for meaning.

And this isn't some abstraction.

This is an important question, I believe every individual should ask oneself.

Because then one realizes, what it truly means to seek truth.

What a man wants

To understand what I seek as an individual, it’s important to understand what I seek as a human.

Maslow's hierarchy of needs
Maslow's hierarchy of needs

Since most of us know what it is I am just gonna skip it, but in case, here’s a link:

And I think this is one of the most beautiful and influential piece that describes about human motivations. It describes what humans seek in a simple triangular structure. Truly mesmerising.

Humans seek immortality

  • Most do it by fulfilling just the lower part of the triangle. Fulfilling basic needs and seeking immortality through Reproduction
  • Very few others do it through the other higher part: becoming immortal by creating something of higher value than themselves. Something that stays beyond them. This is exactly what motivates us to innovate, create art, create companies, create wealth or even go to mars.

What humans seek, isn’t mere survival, they seek immortality.

The bigger picture

We live on a pale-blue dot called Earth. Which is a small part of our Solar System. And there are 3,200+ discovered solar systems within our galaxy. Moreover, the observable universe seems to contain at least two trillion galaxies. And what if there are multiverses?! We are just an insignificant species on this small planet of this vast universe!

There is nothing wrong with Maslow’s pyramid and it’s completely fine to want to climb over it. But I feel it’s like a hedonic treadmill. It’s an endless pursuit. It fails to see the bigger picture.

In the bigger picture no one is immortal.

The universe is huge.

We barely know anything.

About what we are. About where we come from. About how it all started.

Millions of lives have come and gone before us. But we know nothing of them.

But life is just hardwired to seek immortality, because it has biologically evolved to do so. We won’t be alive as a species if we hadn’t selfishly sought immortality.

But we are mere slaves to our biological subconscious.

In the bigger picture, life is meaningless.

The battle for the conscious

As I said, there is nothing wrong with seeking immortality and I think that 99% of us should do that. That’s how we as a species have survived and will continue to do so.

But it’s a never ending quest.

A false quest that covers our eyes.

A hedonic treadmill, that keeps us so engrossed in running that we forget we are running inside it.

Our fear of death arises from its challenge to our desire for immortality, but it is what gives life its meaning. Similarly all the problems are manifestations of our own desires.

But what I seek are fundamental truths.

What I seek is beyond our biological subconscious desire for immortality or fear of death.

What I seek is to be an Übermensch

Man is a rope stretched between the animal and the Superman -a rope over an abyss. A dangerous crossing, a dangerous wayfaring, a dangerous looking-back, a dangerous trembling and halting. What is great in man is that he is a bridge and not a goal: what is lovable in man is that he is an overgoing and a downgoing

- Friedrich Nietzsche**,** Thus Spoke Zarathustra

I defeat the nihilism, and see over the hard wired thirst for immortality. What is it, that I see?

I defeat the nihilism.

But not by the hard wired thirst for immortality.

Not by the endless quest of desire that biology set for me.

Not by the endless quest of desire that society created for me.

But by consciously understanding it. Not by challenging it, by accepting it.

I read somewhere:

Life isn't a mystery to be solved, but rather a journey to be experienced.

I find optimism in Nihilism and coin άθλημα-ism (áthli̱maism) for it

Now you must be wondering what the hell is άθλημα-ism (áthli̱maism)? And how is it even pronounced? And is it even a real thing?

No it’s not. I coined that term, just 4 hours ago. And even I don’t know how it’s pronounced. But whatever it is, it the answer to finding optimism in nihilism, at least I think so. It’s what I think is the method to finding meaning in this inherently meaningless life.

Let me explain the term:

άθλημα is the greek word for áthli̱ma

which means a Game/Sport

There is no meaning to life, the peace lies in acceptance of that. The smart one’s get depressed by this and the wise one’s get happy.

I find it extremely important to understand this, because it’s important to understand how to be a child and find meaning in this utterly meaningless life.

It is to play it like a game.

A game has no purpose other than, to play it.

It’s like music, it’s like art.

life is indeed like music, and we've missed the whole point of it. We are living in an eternal now, and when we listen to music we are not listening to the past, we are not listening to the future, we are listening to an expanded present.

A beautiful quote about life & music by Alan Watts
A beautiful quote about life & music by Alan Watts

“The physical universe is basically playful. There is no necessity for it whatsoever, it isn't going anywhere.” — Alan Watts

And this is what I call

áthli̱maism

It’s a term that I coined. which means to live life like it’s a game. To enjoy it to the fullest, to explore it to its peak. Because at the end of the day nothing matters. Who knows, we truly might be in a simulation and the whole purpose was to enjoy it to the fullest.

I do not say, I am not immune to seeking immortality. I seek it even as I write this. But just to be aware of the fact that it is nothing but a self created hedonic treadmill is to know that you are just playing it. And to know this, is enough.

There is a slight difference between this and hedonism: you seek happiness and truths, not pleasures. Those two are very different things.

So pick your own games and play it at your own pace. We just have one life to discover the beautiful nature of this universe, seek truths and explore it to its depths.

Episode 12th Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood - One is all, All is one
Episode 12th Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood - One is all, All is one
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