Existentialism and the conscious choice to step off the merry-go-round


It is a word. And it was also a comment on my blog yesterday.

I didn’t quite understand what it meant in relation to what I had written. So I looked it up. Fascinating…. Some bits hurt my head when I tried to over think it…

There are several philosophical positions all related to existential philosophy but the main identifiable common proposition, is that existence precedes essence’

I read further to understand that this meant that the most important consideration for individuals is that they are ‘individuals’ and that they are entirely responsible for their own actions.

I liked Sartre’s words the most: man first of all exists, encounters himself, surges up in the world—and defines himself afterwards.

This implies that people can make a conscious choice to be or do whatever they want – to be cruel or kind, committed or lazy..   and it is that choice that makes humans neither of those qualities ‘essentially’.

Amazing. We have the power within us. To take action to change to be a better person, do something better, improve… make the right choice, live out the good qualities daily.

Today I made a choice. I took action. I stepped off the merry-go-round of my current life. I put ‘me’ as my ‘eat the frog’ on the top of my list.

My initial intention this morning was not that… My initial intention was to continue my usual day, pilates before breakfast, breakfast with the boys, double drop offs, coffee with friends, cross off my tasks on my lists, spin and pick ups (x3 as James arrives home today!)..

While my conscious choice was to have a committed, planned, rewarding day… It has not turned out like that….

With Tom off to school early on a Friday morning, it is my quiet time with Willy – we read, we do spellings, we play a game and we giggle and go to school happily. But this morning something went wrong… He did not like his socks. He did not want to come out of his room. He did not want to go to school. He did not want to buckle himself in to the car seat. He did not want to put on his shoes. He did not want to put on his shoes and he did not want to walk in to school.

So I carried my long, lean little man, sobbing in to my neck through the front doors of the school. He would not let go, his arms double wrapped around my neck. Now our little village school has a wonderful teacher, and I am not sure of her title but she is brilliant with children, on an emotional and psychological level. When we had finally managed to coax Willy from around my neck we both sat on her big purple cushion, which keeps all children safe while they share their secrets and worries. She handed Willy a big sheet of paper and asked him to draw on one side what made him happy at school and on the other, anything that making him sad.

Willy loves drawing and he is very detailed and neat. He asked me to help him spell words… so he could write the things that people said to him. And while everything he drew that makes him sad is fixable, trivial, it made us realise that Willy is very sensitive and the huge changes in our lives recently have impacted him more than we thought. For a little 6 year old, his world has changed rather dramatically with his Daddy not living at home during the week and his brother in a different school, and with Mummy away this week, he has felt abandoned, lonely, uncertain, a bit out of sorts.

For each of the little worries he has, we assigned a pencil… and he gave the pencil to who he thought could fix the problem. He took one. The teacher had a few. I was given one. A pink one.

The pink pencil represented me. Mummy is sad. Mummy is angry. Mummy shouted at me to get out of my room.

Existentialism. I am responsible for my actions. I am responsible for me, my behaviours, attitudes and the impact it has on others.

Existentialism. I am taking action to work on myself, to work out what is making me sad, angry, short tempered.

Today, the pink pencil and I are at the top of my list.


One thought on “Existentialism and the conscious choice to step off the merry-go-round

  1. Very moving Ali, and beautifully written. Don’t be too hard on yourself- we can all be short-tempered-shoutin-fish-wives…


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