Nietzsche's Demon and the Face of Eternity

“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’ … Would you not throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse the demon who spoke thus? Or have you once experienced a tremendous moment when you would have answered him: ‘You are a god and never have I heard anything more divine.’”

-Friedrich Nietzsche

Let’s take Nietzsche seriously here for a moment- truly imagine that the life you are living will be lived again and again, endlessly and identically, for eternity. How would you react?

If you’re miserable, well, bad news for you. The misery you now know will be known to you again and again. Not a great prognosis, I’d imagine. Wait a minute, though, you aren’t dead yet. That leaves the possibility that your life may improve, right? I thought so.

Imagine, if you will, that out of the countless infinite possible universes, all of the forces of being and chance came together to birth a self-replicating string of nucleic acids that managed to form a single celled organism. Eventually, that organism was able to absorb other organisms and mutate to create organelles and other intracellular processes.

These processes led it to survive what many others did not, and eventually developed the ability to reproduce sexually. The explosion of genetic diversity this caused greatly increased the speed in which this life grew and changed, becoming fish and plants and animals, spreading all across the Earth.

Eventually, some of these animals gained self-awareness and learned to build, stretching their dominion to encompass the planet. In the process, wars were fought, cities were created and razed to the ground, people lived and loved and had families and died, and entire cultures arose and were wiped out. Somehow, despite all of this chaos, you have survived, in an unbroken line of life leading all the way back to the beginning. Your specific chain of nucleic acids, wrapped up into chromosomes, has managed to withstand the depths of the seas, the coldest winters, the conflicts and diseases and predators that ravaged so many others that failed to make it. Many times extinction came, but never did it touch you.

Your microscopic strands of acids have continued to strive and survive for as long as life has existed, all to provide you with this moment, having a mind that has learned the ability to read the words on this screen, having developed the most complex and articulate hands that you’re using to touch your computer or phone, having developed a mechanism to take the oxygen out of the air and feed the chemical reaction within every cell of your body that allows life to take place. Beyond all of this, you are aware of it and can question it. Your mind is capable of observing and contemplating the environment, then devising ways to understand and alter it- consciously. No other species evolved is equipped to perform such a miracle- and all of this is miraculous when you reckon the infinite many that failed to endure or gave in before ever being given such a chance.

Now, knowing this, imagine what Nietzsche spoke of. If you were to live this life, this life that statistically, shouldn’t have happened, again, what would that mean? What if, out of the countless infinite possible universes, that this life, yours, is in fact the best life that has ever been lived? What if at some point you had been given the choice to do anything, and this life is what you chose?

You, now, are living this life-

and you must choose to make it the best life that has ever been lived.

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