Earlier this morning I had been contemplating nihilism. I was feeling nihilistic and unconstructive. I wondered if some pill or other could improve my mood and cheer up my day.
I was bad tempered, grumpy and negative. Just for a change.
I had an epiphany a few years back when I was watching some apocalyptic movie, where aliens invade earth and destroy all its cities.
People were running wild, freed from the degradation of desks and work and “bizniss”. I felt huge empathy with these imaginary characters – a sense of relief at being freed from the banality of conventional existence.
And hence to nihilism and why a free legal high just might be the answer.
A kinder interpretation defines nihilism as “nothingness” or “nonexistence” and closely aligns it to the buddhist concept of “nirvana”. In that sense I am a confirmed nihilist.
But in 19th Century Russia, nihilism was a movement which rejected established laws and institutions. Nihilism in that sense is often synonymous with anarchy, terrorism, or other revolutionary activity. I’m certainly not that sort of nihilist but I can see where they are coming from.
I think nihilism in its destructive form is probably caused by boredom, anger, frustration. Perhaps destructive nihilism is linked to depression. Perhaps it comes somewhere along the line between perfect happiness at one end and deep despair at the other.
Addiction is about escaping nihilism. It’s about self medication for a troubled soul. The world can sometimes seem so intolerable that flight into the arms of heroin or alcohol looks compelling and attractive.
Time and time again over the years I have discovered and re-discovered exercise as a free legal high, which, unless I am at my most deeply negative usually turns my natural quietism into something more cheerful.
The trouble is, exercise is most easily resisted when it is most needed, today being a case in point.
I forced myself to do a gentle 45 minutes of Pilates and the effect was quite remarkable.
It flooded my body and mind with a legal high. I won’t bother to go into the physiological details but I am not talking in airy fairy, rubbishy new age terms. I’m not talking some goody two shoes feeling of smugness for having put myself through 45 minutes of exercise.
I am talking a real, honest to god drug. A very strong effect indeed.
A high every bit as real as any recreational drug (not that I have tried anything other than alcohol and a puff of weed).
I could actually feel the chemicals at work in the same way I can feel paracetamol working through my body to cure a headache.
It tends to work best (for me at least) on a fairly empty stomach and the “rush” happens in the rests between bouts of exercise. The effects last for the rest of the day. The bad mood is banished, the quietism and negativity ends and a keen interest in life returns.
I find the effect to be best when I am determined to notice it, to enjoy it, to look for it. It doesn’t require a back breaking, sweat covered work out. It can be achieved through stretching exercises such as pilates.
The effect may be well known, it may be widely written about, touted as a salve for the soul. But like any ointment, it requires the discipline to apply it where and when it is needed.
Note to self: must be more disciplined.