Existential Angst


I never understood the meaning of the phrase

Existential Angst

till I met someone who was devoid of it.

Existential Angst. The angst of existance. The agony of being.

How is it possible to live without it? I mean, how can one be a part of the crowd, the universe, creation itself and still stand apart? You may stand out but can you stand apart? How can you not influence and be influenced by the forces around you? Even the mountain is shaped by the lashing of waves, the skies are coloured blue because of the interaction of light with air particles, the sea looks blue because of the sky. The hardest substance known to mankind, a diamond, is nothing more than common carbon that just has been shut away from the impact and influence of the universe for a very, very long time.

Everything else, everyone else is touched and altered by those around them. Everyone bears the taint, the burden, the injury of being alive. The scars are what we call existential angst.

Or perhaps not. Apparantly some people are rejuvenated enough for the scars to disappear…by plain air itself. Or something else altogether. What?

I carry the cross of the existential angst of not knowing who I am and why I’m here. I don’t belong, then I do. I don’t understand, but sometimes I do. And it pains me, it hurts me. How can it not?

Existential angst defines me. It is my restlessness, which brings forth my pondering, my thinking, my analysing, my understanding, my wisdom, my pride, my foolishness, my mistakes, my pain, my memories, my regrets, my desires, my dreams, my hopes, my annoyances…Me.

Existential angst or the pain of being makes one ponder. We think and therefore we are. And yet, there are those who don’t suffer existential angst. Those who exist, those who are. How??

They must be part of the universe too. We fit, like question and answer.

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12 thoughts on “Existential Angst

  1. Because of B February 7, 2007 at 14:14 Reply

    Those who do not suffer from existential angst are probably only living in an auto-pilot mode. We, who do, actually live, struggle and suffer. We’re open to changes, whether brought by our actions or others’.

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  2. gaizabonts February 7, 2007 at 17:19 Reply

    Reminds me of “Worse than the total agony of being in love?” from Love Actually. Agree with BoB above, robotic almost, without existential angst. Q comes whether it is really possible that some exist without the angst?

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  3. pragni February 7, 2007 at 17:36 Reply

    BoB, Gaizabonts – Normally, humans tend to think that the state they are in is the correct or right one, and the state they are not in (and therefore someone else is in) is bad, harmful or wrong (in a way). For all you know the people who do not suffer from existential angst wonder how those suffering from it survive.. or endure it.. Everyone has a different way of living and looking at life.. Which is not to say that I dont suffer from it… but like Ideasmith says, there must be an answer to it.. somewhere.. how do they do it..

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  4. gaizabonts February 7, 2007 at 19:03 Reply

    @pragni: “For all you know the people who do not suffer from existential angst wonder how those suffering from it survive.. or endure it.”

    just thinking out loud – does that wonder qualify as a ‘form’ of Existential Angst?

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  5. Ranjan February 8, 2007 at 12:54 Reply

    Disagree with BOB. When we say that we are struggling with our life, suffering and are not like those not suffering from the angst, we are actually seeking to be devoid of the angst.

    I hv my own cross to bear. I’m striving to be a man of action with inaction.!?!:)

    Tao has some amazing insights and they talk of action in inaction. Wish I cd understand it more.

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  6. KVN February 8, 2007 at 14:30 Reply

    Too much of this is also not good as one needs to maintain ones sanity.

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  7. lost_brownie February 8, 2007 at 15:55 Reply

    but angst is over, sistah… like the glittery bling-y stuff like bombay girls insist on wearing. actually that isn’t over, it should be!!!

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  8. ideasmith February 9, 2007 at 12:36 Reply

    @ Because of B: The person I met wasn’t living on auto-pilot. Which is why it made me think.

    @ Gaizabonts: Ah…that kind of agony, the sweet, excruciating sort? Yes, I think that kind of wonder might qualify as existential angst too if it was a deep, hungry yearning to know and not just a “I can live without the knowledge, who cares?” question.

    @ Pragni: That’s certainly a point to be considered.I don’t think people who don’t suffer existential angst are wrong, au contraire, I wish I could learn to be like that. But I guess that’s part of the agony of being…the agony of being me.

    @ Ranjan: We’re all struggling to be free of angst. Or are we? The struggle is nothing more than the propagation of angst, or so the wise ones would have us know. What do you think?

    @ KVN: Sanity? I lost touch with that centuries ago!

    @ Lost_Brownie: Umm..if angst were over, there wouldn’t be any poetry, music, art or philosophy anymore. There’s a saying in Hindi that means “You aren’t an artist (singer/poet) until you’ve suffered. The pain brings that certain quality to your expression.”

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  9. Ranjan February 9, 2007 at 12:57 Reply

    Let us not bother with any wise men other than our own self šŸ™‚

    There are moments in my struggle where I’m tryin to see the struggle from a point 100 ft above. In those moments I get the feeling that the angst is taking up all the energy and there’s barely anything left for a real life.

    So in a way the struggle is leading me to seek being devoid of the angst.

    The Taos say that words can’t describe TAO. Any attempt to do that is NOT Tao! (http://thetao.info)

    I’m amazed at the depth of this post. Honestly I did not see this coming from such a young kid!

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  10. […] Ah, but the agony of existence! […]

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  11. julieluongo April 29, 2007 at 05:14 Reply

    I envy the people without existential angst. But I don’t really enjoy socializing with them all that much. I appreciate that they’re out there in the world doing their jobs and taking care of things that need to get done. And I’m happy that they’re not here in our bloggy world where we insist on analyzing everything endlessly.

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  12. […] rather be dead than bear the angst of existence. We’d rather be immortalized as heroes or as villains in history than survive the everyday […]

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