man is a bridge, not a goal

Friedrich Nietzsche was a German philosopher and cultural critic whose writings notably influenced Western philosophy and modern intellectual history.

In his book Everything is F*cked, Mark Manson shares an impactful story about Nietzsche.

In his final years, Nietzsche was cared for by several women, and one of them was his dear friend Meta von Salis. Meta first got introduced to Nietzsche at a dinner party, and the two remained close friends until his death. One day, as they were out on a walk around the lake near his home, Nietzsche began to struggle, both physically and mentally. Years of fighting mental issues had taken its toll on him and he was having a difficult time. As Meta walked alongside him, Nietzsche started uttering some philosophical gibberish. She tried to calm him down and coaxed him to return home, but he refused. Meta started feeling hopeless and as she began to walk away, she heard Nietzsche say, “Man is a rope, tied between beast and superman—a rope over an abyss. What is great in man is that he is a bridge and not a goal: what can be loved in man is that he is an overture [to something greater.]”

These words had a profound impact on Meta. The idea of a person being overture to something greater positively influenced her to continue working as an advocate of feminism and women’s liberation. 

As humans, we will always be the bridge between our current self and our ideal self and the tug of war between good and evil within us will go on eternally, and that’s why instead of seeking perfection in ourselves and around us right now, we must be grateful for the progress we have made thus far, and move forward in the journey as we work towards becoming a better version of ourselves. 

Another insight, as paradoxical as it may sound, is that when we cultivate love for our fate (Amor Fati, a concept also introduced by Nietzsche), we empower ourselves so that nothing or no one in this world has the power to get us in the downward spiral. Whether we become hopeful or not, that’s a different story, but the most important thing is that we distance ourselves from victimhood and feeling hopeless. 

Love your fate and accept life as it is with all its phases, whether they be about success, despair, love, disappointment, joy, pain, you name it, unconditionally. Because destiny is not about our past or our future, it’s about how we choose to live in the present moment.