The Conquistadors of the Useless

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When you scale a rock face, and make it to the top, there’s nothing there. Lionel Terray, the great French climber called this phenomena 'The conquistadors of the useless.' Sure, the outcome is useless, but it’s the journey that makes it all worthwhile. Sometimes we forget that. The meaning of life has been a subject discussed by humankind for countless generations: “why are we here?” “what is life all about?” “what is the point of existence?”. And answers range from achieving pure bliss, to 42. But what if there is no true meaning? As in rock climbing, you get to the end of your life and face “the conquistadors of the useless”, death, but does that mean you are not to live it? Does one simply not swim because there is no treasure chest at the bottom of the lagoon? Why not follow a rainbow, even if there’s no pot’o’gold at the end? Some religions would argue Heaven, where one rests in an eternal state of divine happiness. Though this perspective may eliminate “the conquistadors of the useless”, it also belittles the journey and the adventure, as life becomes a miniscule time frame compared to one’s upcoming eternity of pleasure. People tend to misinterpret and abuse the argument offered by ‘the conquistadors of the useless’, now more than ever as the phrase “YOLO”, or “You Only Live Once”, trends worldwide. Well, I only live once, and my journey is all that counts, so I can do whatever I want! I can live in the moment and simply disregard any consequences that may occur, right? Wrong. Life is an entire journey, and the longer you want it to last and stay enjoyable, the more careful you need to be. You only live once, so don’t screw it up. But wait! That’s it, isn’t it? The meaning of life is the journey, because the journey is all that counts. But, what does that mean, “the journey is all that counts”? Counts for what? Counts towards what? And again, we come up with nothing. So there’s no meaning of life, that doesn’t mean we can’t give it purpose. Human kind’s biggest fault is that we need purpose. Every time you ask someone ‘why’ he or she is doing something or ‘why’ they even care, it is because you need that sense of purpose, and without it its hard to maintain sanity. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle depicted this through his famous series of short stories revolving around Detective Sherlock Holmes. Sherlock, the main protagonist, and Professor James Moriarty, one of the main antagonists, were both incredibly brilliant and lived with the understanding that life held no predetermined purpose. Sherlock created his own purpose in solving mysteries, whereas Moriarty failed to create a solid purpose and would be said to have gone “insane”. As a teenager, my purpose changes day to day. Sometimes I just want to fit in, or to get good grades, or to impress others with my speech, but these are not sustainable purposes. There comes a time in everyone’s life when they begin to accept “the conquistadors of the useless”, but rarely do we ever really accept it. We just fight it and avoid it with an even more sustainable purpose, one that can never truly be fulfilled. And there is not a thing wrong with that. There’s nothing waiting for me at the top, so I’ll just climb a more challenging rock face. Why? Because it gives me purpose. But why do I want purpose? Because it makes me happy. Using that statement many conclude happiness to be the meaning of life. Therefore, you live to be happy, but happiness is a way of life. Happiness is predetermined in the sense that you live, so why not be happy? It is very common, though, to create a purpose out of happiness. Buddhists, live not to be happy, but to be at peace, therefore being at peace is their way of life. Though, they too have the power to create purpose out of that. When you scale a rock face, and make it to the top, there’s nothing there. Lionel Terray, the great French climber called this phenomena 'The conquistadors of the useless.' Sure, the outcome is useless, but it’s the journey...
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