Be honest: does this crippling existential dread make me look fat?

Lately, I haven’t been able to shake this feeling that there’s no point to any of it. None. This thing we call “life” is really just one painfully drawn out, cosmic joke. And I can’t tell if that’s what’s causing the bulge around my waistline or if it’s this cable knit sweater my aunt gave me for Christmas.

Let’s start with the obvious. We wake up in the morning and we go to work so that we can earn money—a ridiculous social construct in and of itself—and that money is used to pay other people who wake up and go to work to earn money… so they can turn around and hand over their money to other people. It’s a vicious cycle of utter insignificance, and the subsequent despair is going straight to my face—like right under my chin, see?

I often catch myself staring at a clock for God knows how long, watching the seconds tick away. Tick tick tick… we crawl towards oblivion. Tick tick tick… but at least it’s a great workout. Tick tick tick… don’t forget to engage your core.

This awareness of an impending nothingness haunts me in the dead of night. I’m kept awake by the pangs of a hunger that can only be satiated by finding some hint of meaning to our existence. Or maybe I should’ve just gone for the deluxe club sandwich instead of the tuna wrap.

Either way, it’s when I’m lying in bed, tracing lines on the ceiling, that the very notion of choice reveals itself to be a fallacy. Does a bolt of lightning choose to strike an ancient redwood? Does a roaming elephant choose to crush an ant underfoot? Does ordering a house salad instead of sweet potato fries really make any difference in the end? If it comes with Thousand Island dressing, the answer washed ashore by the celestial tides is a definitive “no.”

My grandfather earned a Purple Heart in World War II and came home to raise two children, buy a house in the suburbs, build a moderately successful ceramic tile business. On his deathbed, he couldn’t remember who I was or what city he lived in or anything about the business he’d built, but he nevertheless looked me in the eye and managed to mutter something about the importance of “leaving behind a legacy.” I swear I could feel my ass expanding right then and there.

Between the polar ice caps melting and the rainforests burning, it’s difficult to see how our civilization survives another century, so tell me, what good is a legacy? You can establish a foundation or put your name on a building, or lose that last five pounds, but when it all goes down—and, let’s be honest, it is going down—any legacy you’ve left behind will evaporate into the ether with everything else. At the end of the day, it’s a complete waste of what little time we have on this planet to “build a legacy.” Or for that matter, jump on the elliptical after work and mindlessly pump our legs around in circles.

Tick tick tick.

Look, maybe this is just a phase I’m going through. Maybe I should give Crossfit a try, or sign up for that yoga retreat in Tulum, or recognize that when we die our energy is redistributed into the universe where we finally obtain the ability to experience the interconnectedness of all things. But if that’s the case, I need to go shopping because none of these pants fit me anymore.

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