“The greatest weight.– 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?”
This is what I have been battling with – and it is called Nietzsche’s Greatest Weight. Fair enough, it could be seen as a thought experiment. However, with my mental ill health this could be seen as how my depression manifests.
What could be seen as a compass point for morality – as in, what do I ‘do’ if my actions viewed in the light of eternity – could be the crushing Greatest Weight of existence. To paraphrase Shakespeare;
To be, or not to be, that is the question—
Whether ’tis Nobler in the mind to suffer
The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,
And by opposing, end them?
Do I “… take arms against a sea of troubles …” (I won’t go in to the rest of the speech – for fear of readers calling Emergency Outreach Teams) or do I quietly sit here riding it out? I suppose the answer is to try and live in the Eternal Now. As in, not think excessively. I try and try not to view my existence in the light of eternity. But it is no way to live your life, knowing you are an island.
Every act has a ripple effect on those around you. This is how to live your life.
Do not take Nietzsche’s Greatest Weight as the be-all: as in, do not view the past in the light of eternity. The past has got me to this point and it is up to me to improve my lot for the future. Nobody else will do that (no, I am not sulking – this is my motivational talk to myself). The future is ripe with possibility and I embrace it wholeheartedly.
The problem at the moment is that, yes, I am viewing the past as a manifestation of the eternal – my actions haunt me. What if I did have to re-live the minutest aspect of my cosmic loneliness … repeatedly. As stated above, best live in the present and hope it bodes well for the future.
That is to say, I am making plans for the future – my radio station is blooming-ish and me and the wife have many a thing we wish to do. However, it is the viewpoint that I gaze at my actions that needs to change.
My view of when I suffer from depression is that it can manifest as that of being plucked from my life and gazing at your actions in the light of eternity – in the minutest of details. A good solution to this is to try and live in the eternal present – something not easily done. The quest to live in the present has been the spiritual quest of Eastern ascetics for millennia. I am only dipping my toe in unknown waters.