I recently finished Toward a Philosophy of the Act by Russian philosopher M.M. Bakhtin. The essay affected me deeply as I continue undergoing some major life changes.
Bakhtin argues that the purest measure of my life is found in the actions I take. Life is always coming at me; it’s full of numerous possibilities. From moment-to-moment, day-to-day, year-to-year, etc., I must acknowledge my uniqueness in Being and then actualize my potential through the actions I perform.
But nothing tells me how I should live my life. There is no “out-there” to guide my actions. Any concept of morality or “man must do this” maxim means little to me as a unique being. It’s an abstraction that leads only to confusion and doesn’t guarantee my cooperation or ensure that I’ll derive a sense of purpose if I follow the Rules.
Instead of looking for help from the universe or other outside forces, I must realize that I have “no alibi in Being.” This means that I owe it to myself to make something of my life by continually acting out my potential. No one can make my life for me but me. And I can’t compel you to make your life for you.
It’s some pretty heady stuff that at its core seems so natural to me. I have only myself to praise or blame for how my life unfolds. There’s freedom in knowing this, even while remembering that as long as I’m alive there is no escape from Being. Not choosing (or the illusion of it) is a choice in itself.