Life and Donuts

Life and Donuts

The responses to the question “If we all end up dying, what’s the purpose of living?” on Quora inspired me to write this comic. The consensus was that at the end, to the universe we’re no more important than a rock. We’re so tiny that trying to find a meaning for our lives seems even arrogant, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy it. You eat a donut (or a cake, like Quora suggested), and enjoy it without worrying that you’ll finish it in a few bites.

What do you think?

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  • Boon Jin Tek

    This is absolutely simple to understand and makes lots of sense! Thank you

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  • anonymous

    The problem is, there will always be more donuts.

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  • Héctor Caliman

    Hi Elle, a few years ago i think very seriously in a suicide and is hard when saw in our side and have nothing try fix this, but one of things I started to try to change this was travel, every year I must travel to escape from these same people. Travel, alone or not, is wonderful, start talk with other people and, why not, listen something new or watch a movie without indication. Like Pablo Stanley Answered you, everyone is important, everything matters, so we lie in a giant world with a lot of instresting people would like to know you. By the way, I’m Héctor nice to meet you and I hope keep talk with you.

  • Sreenanda Das Sharma

    Elle, hold on.

    Many years from now you’ll probably look back at this time as a milestone in your life. CS Lewis once said that suffering is God’s megaphone to rouse a deaf world. So perhaps this is a call to you to change something in your life that is causing you distress.

    Please don’t feel alone. In case you need someone to talk to, am here. Peace and light to you…

    PS: LOVE THE PIECE, PABLO! It brought me so much solace :)

  • Tamasa Patra

    I loved it. :)

  • tacticianjenro

    Please don’t tell me what to do…I want my life to be miserable and sad and stuff. =)

  • sadhana

    one of my friend shared this comic with me at the time when i was having the same question,’why love something when its about to end someday?’ in my head. but after reading the comic, i feel i can love even better.. thanks to my friend and Pablo..

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  • lmic

    Love this. . Makes you think

  • Archana

    Hi Elle :)
    You have a friend more.
    This comic and this post and these responses left tears in my eyes. We may not know but we certainly are important to many people. I once lost someone I loved deeply, and I now understand how many lives are related to a single life. At times everything around will be blue but all we have to do is stick around for some light.
    I really hope you are doing good now :)
    All the best for your life ahead and keep smiling
    If ever u need to talk to someone do let me know, as sometimes its strangers who you can rely on cometely with your story

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  • Stephen Howard

    I bumped into this by accident. To all the people who cared to extend support to those in pain, thank you. Your act of compassion, even to people I don’t know, has restored some hope in my day.

  • Guest

    我终于理解“存在纯属偶然,人生全无意义”,感动的要哭

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  • Tarah

    I’ve been there, too, Elle. Sometimes I still go through it. Life hurts. And that’s why we create such beauty as art, music, poetry, words, love, compassion, dance… so that life heals as well. )

  • Dan BLAH!

    *seeking revenge

  • Dan BLAH!

    yes it’s relative. we are all “lucky” that we were born humans instead of mollusks.

  • Daar Fisher

    Certainly, there IS meaning to our lives… the meaning that WE give it. For me, the purpose of life was well-expressed by W. Clement Stone many years ago. He called it: R2A2 (as an out-take on Star Wars’s “R2D2″), or Recognize, Relate, Assimilate and Apply. We are “learning, growing machines.” We need by keep our eyes and ears open. Recognize when something we’re exposed to seems valuable. Relate it to ourselves, or our projects, or ideas. Thoroughly learn, or Assimilate, it. Then, Apply it to our body of knowledge/wisdom. Consider also what I have identified as the

    “Paradox of Growth”

    I can’t BE
    more than I AM,
    or DO
    more than I DO
    RIGHT NOW -
    in this moment.

    - – - – * – - – - (pause to reflect)

    Who I AM
    is actualized by
    what I DO,
    which is determined by
    what I LEARN,
    which, in turn, results from
    how I THINK
    about that which
    I PERCEIVE.

    – - – - * – - – -

    I AM
    available to
    PERCEIVE,
    THINK,
    LEARN and
    DO,
    - * – to BECOME – * -

    because
    I’m UNITED in SELF-ACCEPTANCE,
    NOT
    distracted by self-judgment.

    – - – - * – - – -

    Who I AM BECOMING
    relies on
    my ACCEPTANCE of
    who I AM
    and
    what I’m DOING
    MOMENT BY MOMENT.

    Who I AM BECOMING
    is
    WHO I AM
    RIGHT NOW!

    – D. Fisher 10/88

  • Maria Olsen

    I loved this! Really amazing! You capture my exact words! so if people ever ask me what the meaning of life is, I will show them this… Thank you for making it! :)

  • Rajan Sethi

    Simply Wow…:) thank you for this comic strip

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  • Amador Cuenca

    Dat feels!

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  • http://about.me/dilem Alex Dilem

    You got me thinking about the fact that my parents are getting older. It’ll be so hard to bear when they’ll die :”(((

  • ‘Mark Joseph Tupas

    This is a really great comic and as I read the story I also start to wonder for myself and I may have a different opinion( Mine is to take care of the home we call earth and to teach the next generation how to take care of it so we can make a better world for the present and the future) from you but I have to say this opened my eyes and I really hope to see more of these comics. :)

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  • Ghelas

    You say “if I eat a doughnut, there is no doughnut for you,” but this is irrational. Here is the root of our disagreement. It is exactly the sort of primitive thinking that needs to be eliminated rather than mistaken for reason. The modern world is not a zero-sum contest in the least! We are not riding through the wilderness, each hurling hand-crafted spears at wild doughnuts, fearful that the man whose throw misses will starve. Those things come from a bakery. They are produced in quantities based on predicted demand, out of materials which are produced as fast as cost-efficiency allows.

    In short, doughnuts, like most other comforts, are the result of a collaboration in which you are a participant. And this is a system you can exert influence on, and perhaps refine.

    So, let’s put it this way: If you really like doughnuts, there are two things you could do.

    1) Work hard to obtain doughnuts for yourself.
    2) Work hard with others to make the system of producing, distributing, and retaining doughnuts better for everyone.

    And now the kicker: You can engage in both 1 and 2 at the same time! There’s no reason you can’t look out for yourself, and participate in systems that help everyone (which is probably the only way certain goals can be accomplished, right?) And while you can’t TASTE the benefits of a system that provides everyone with affordable doughnuts, as a rational person, you can appreciate that it means that no one will have any reason to take YOUR doughnuts from you. Not to mention, it would also provide you with doughnuts if you should run out!

  • Red Shirt

    Justice is just socially approved vengeance. I don’t care if what I do is socially approved or not. Of course, I will listen to WHY others think it’s not, but the reasons are rarely able to be more than just superficial and generic BS.

    Every situation is to be judged by itself. You giving me that example doesn’t impress nor sway me in any way, sorry.

  • James Earl Adams III

    There is no incentive for me to value the world except for my pleasure.

  • Ghelas

    Ghelas might say that there is not so great a separation between “you” and “the world” as you imagine. You are neurologically equipped to gain pleasure when you benefit others. The impulses you feel to look out for yourself first come from more primitive and brutal times. They are woefully outdated.

    “The world” is not an entity that somehow excludes you, so to say that your needs and the needs of the world are at odds is illogical. Can you try to explain why you feel the need to prioritize one over the other?

  • James Earl Adams III

    What does that have to do with altruism and egoism?

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  • Benjamin Eugene NElson

    I spelled it out for you. If you do nothing nothing will change. If you want the world to be better, then get out and better the world. That’s what both the quotes are both about.

    While it’s true that nobody can save the world single handedly, if nobody bothers it’s DEFINATLY not going to happen.

    And you’re trying to say that I’m saying “go out and do whatever you want”. which is not the point at all.

    I’m seriously wondering if you are trolling me right now.

  • James Earl Adams III

    If that’s how you want to interpret Keller’s quote, then how is it relevant to the discussion we were having?

    For that matter, how is Ghandi’s? Being the change I wish to see in the world means being self interested and not feeling obliged to charity.

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  • http://expedition-megacosm.blogspot.com/ Aditya Iyer

    Hey Elle, I have gone through the same myself (and in a way still going through). I can’t add any more to what already the others above, especially what Pablo said (and the cute panda whose image I nabbed for myself too) since I’m afraid I’m not intelligent enough.
    Just again, you matter.

  • Ghelas

    You’re not asking quite the right question. It’s completely legal to have multiple goals in this game.

    There isn’t any real separation between the two sides we’re presenting here. You are James Earl Adams The Individual, AND James Earl Adams The Network Cell. Your inherent goals are to advance your own desires AND to be part of an able social network, which views you as a valuable member (and is therefore willing to help advance your desires.)

    There are numerous benefits gained from defaulting to help others when you can’t directly advance your own goals. You gain social worth with those who are aware of your actions. You strengthen your social network, directly as you help someone who may be more willing to help you in turn, and indirectly as others may act similarly to you in order to also gain social worth. Last but not least, your sense of empathy allows you to feel good about helping others.

    Fortunately for all of us, being good is pretty efficient, and there’s no need to abandon personal goals for the sake of it!

  • Benjamin Eugene NElson

    Apparently you did just miss the point.

    The point was simply if you do nothing nothing will change. Period. Whining about how evil and unfair the world is, or saying that it’s not wirth doing anything because you might do evil things is just excuses. And the world will NEVER get better if that’s how you operate.

    How about another quote.

    “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Ghandi.

  • James Earl Adams III

    I think you’ve missed the point in my feigning to have missed the point

    You don’t do what you can do. You do what you can do only when it’s in your interest — otherwise you find yourself doing useless, evil or stupid things.

  • James Earl Adams III

    Taking “100%” literally, no, I’ve never encountered such an ultimatum as: A) certain death or B) charity. However, I don’t think you need to have faced such a superlative to make an informed decision. I would rather suffer catastrophically up to (but not including) death than face a world where we are slaves to one another.

    That doesn’t make it desirable though, because I could say the same for self-amputation.

    I agree that I am a constituent of society and I completely advocate that we meet our goals as a group, but there is a cart-horse problem here. I collaborate with the group to make my goals more accessible; benefit to the group is incidental. You, on the other hand, have taken a means to an end and make it the end itself. To you, the group’s benefit is not merely incidental, it’s the entire game. My question is “why?”

  • Benjamin Eugene NElson

    The point. You have missed it completley.

    Granted this was probably delibrately. But still.

  • James Earl Adams III

    That’s one way to get yourself arrested over the weekend, I suppose.

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  • Ghelas

    Tried to post a reply, seems like it didn’t go through, so I will try again.

    No offense was meant by what I posted — I’m not trying to suggest that your life is free of hardships. However, we can make a few deductions from your post that speak of your current level of safety and comfort.

    1) You’re educated.
    2) We’re conversing in English.
    3) We’re conversing online.
    4) The conversation itself is in regards to a webcomic.

    A few further deductions, too simple to be incorrect, can be made from the above (for example, you either own or are allowed to use to some valuable device that allows you online access.) A great deal could be wrong in your life. You could be dying of some painful illness for all I know…

    But you are making these posts from a place of relative safety and comfort. Furthermore, your current state of health allows you to partake in such a discussion, and speak reasonably. You’re not out scavenging because you would otherwise risk starvation, you’re not incoherent because of some terrible inner conflict, you’re not so poor as to have no idea what the internet is, your body is not so ravaged by age as to be unable to muster the effort this conversation required. You have the opportunity and the means to converse with your fellow man, online. So it’s possible that you simply haven’t encountered a situation where help is 100% necessary, and it’s even possible that you never will, even if your life seems painful and uncomfortable to you.

    Back to our main point.

    “You’ve implied that this belief of yours is based on the idea of reciprocity (you should help them, because they help you). This doesn’t account for contingencies where charity is not sought, accepted or received — even by those who need it. Furthermore, if my pleasure isn’t an end in itself, then what’s my motivation for maintaining
    interdependence?”

    I think a lot of society’s failings are due to the fact that individuality is overvalued. But you are EQUALLY valuable as an individual and a cog in society, and there’s no shame in either function! You are connected to a tremendous network of people. You effectively produce electricity, food, running water and so forth, in automatic cooperation with a tremendous number of other human beings.

    We all share the common, biologically hard-wired goal of avoiding unnecessary pain and certain types of discomfort. This is far from a meaning of life thing, this is a fundamental thing that dictates much of human behavior.

    So, if we approach the meeting of other comfort goals as a group, for efficiency’s sake… Can you give me a reasonable argument for why the above should be any different?

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  • Benjamin Eugene NElson

    That is vengance not necessairly justice.

    I mean, it is “Justice” IN Uganda that a “Kill the gays” law is very likely to be passed. But is that justice really or vengance for people who “sin?”

  • Benjamin Eugene NElson

    “I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.”

    Helen Keller

  • Benjamin Eugene NElson

    Two someones who don’t even know you care.

    I’ve been where you are and I am lucky to have come out of the other side. If you need anyone to talk too please don’t hesatate to contact me.

  • Lalisima NZ

    I just can say THANK YOU :)

  • James Earl Adams III

    Were I a man to be upset at slights, I might take offense at your depreciation of things of which you know nothing, because my life is enormously more dysfunctional and impoverished than your naive appraisal would suggest. But that is beside the point.

    I want to know why you think we’re obliged to help one another. You implied that it has something to do with reciprocity (you should help them, because they help you). This doesn’t account for contingencies where charity is not sought, accepted or received. Furthermore, if my pleasure isn’t an end in itself, then what’s my motivation for maintaining interdependence? The only reason that I could care if they help me is if I care about “having a blast and enjoying [my] temporary donut,” but you don’t seem to think that that’s the first cause.

  • Sam W.

    What do I think? I think this is a simple and effective means by which to explain life. Brilliant and poignant and awesome.

  • Ghelas

    You’re making the very common mistake of assuming that your experiences are typical. “I don’t ask for the sweets of those who are better off” is the anthem of the man who is, relatively speaking, pretty well off.

    The simple fact that you’re here probably means that you’ve had a decent meal sometime today. You most likely own an electronic device that enables you to view this site, or at the very least, you have access to a community that allows you to use such a device. This represents some modicum of wealth and opportunity. Maybe you work hard, or maybe not at all, I don’t know you so I can’t say… But one thing is for sure: you are LUCKY. If you weren’t, you wouldn’t have the means to present your counter-point.

    If you’ve never been sick enough, hungry enough, abused enough, or simply old enough to have to ask for help: that’s great. I am genuinely happy for you. But if that day should come when you have no choice but to ask, do you want to be faced with a world that retorts; “why is this man my responsibility? I’ve never asked him for a single thing!”

  • James Earl Adams III

    “And it is your duty as a co-donut-eater to help those people as much as you possibly can,”

    Why is that my duty?

  • Aya Toki

    Elle. I know probably everyone has said this to you, but suicide isn’t the answer. When things are at their lowest and things look like they will never, ever get better, a ray of sunshine will break through the gray clouds and give you some hope to keep going. I may not know who you are, or who what you’re going through, but remember, I care. Imagine the impact on people you don’t even know if they discover you committed suicide. If you EVER need to talk, email me at sleepypandagirls@gmail.com. I’ll be happy to talk to you. But remember, i’m an awkward human. I won’t know the right things to say, so i’ll just speak from my heart.

    I hope this picture of LilBubz makes you smile. c; Email me at anytime.

  • Summer

    Hey Elle,
    I don’t know you, but I too care about you. If you’d like a text friend or a penpal, a shoulder to cry on, whatever you need, just let me know. I’d be happy to be your friend. :) My e-mail is sdrouant at gmail dot com.

  • Ghelas

    As a logical person going through a 20-some-odd year rough patch in life, I would like to point out that the donut analogy is woefully inadequate. We’re not just sad because things are finite. Life is full of difficult and painful experiences. If you can imagine a donut that has randomly had a lot of things you would never willingly eat baked into it, now you have something a bit more accurately depicting life!

    Having the “right” mindset about the donut is only an incredibly small part of the recipe for happiness. If you ask me, the main ingredient in that recipe is luck: being born in the wrong place or to the wrong parents, a drunk driver, a colony of microscopic organisms or a bout of particularly bad weather all have the power to ensure that most of your donut tastes pretty awful.

    So, I would like to make a bold statement (and who cares if only a few dozen people will read it?) It’s NOT okay to just live in the moment, do your best at what you love, and all of that other stuff that most people believe produces happiness. It’s NOT enough! Because while you are having a blast and enjoying your temporary donut, somebody else out there is having to gnaw through the stalest, most foul-tasting part of it. And it is your duty as a co-donut-eater to help those people as much as you possibly can, and to ensure that future donut-eaters have as little of that stuff to deal with as possible. Because sooner or later, you are likely to run into a bad patch of donut yourself. And then, you will wish that the people enjoying their share were simply AWARE of you, and maybe willing to help… just a little.

    The function of life is to enhance life.
    There, I said it.

  • julian_medina

    I get it now

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  • Elle

    I guess I forget that there are good people in the world. Perfect strangers have made me smile and cry and feel like I’m not alone in this struggle.
    Thank you.

  • Elle

    Thank you thank you thank you.
    I now have the red panda set as my phone wallpaper and about 100 times a day I can stop and see that someone (and even someone who doesn’t know me) cares.

    It’s scary to get caught up in your own sadness and you feel like you can’t escape. So few people around me understand depression and the vacuum it causes. It’s nice to not feel alone in this.

  • Bethany Ann Marie Opara

    My donut has been full of maggots. Do I have to eat it?

  • http://mormonprison.blogspot.com/ David Jason

    This was an awesome comic. Could you do some more on morality, humanism, etc.. This was probably the first atheist item I’ve ever shared on facebook because it is very positive message about nature, without being critical of religion at all.

  • Agata

    This is just amazing – as always! But this one is just extremly beautiful!

  • Stephen Temple

    I’m glad to see you are a online (comic?) artist who actually cares about his followers! I found you about a month because of Anna and Toby (Which I LOVE) and I am still loving your posts!

    All I gotta say is thanks for not becoming corrupt and snooty (yet!)

  • Red Shirt

    Agreed to some extent. Certain things must be punished. And justice is just like the meaning of life: there is none unless you make it.

  • deacarvalho

    Guess for today, I’m not going to think about killing myself. Thank you.
    =’)

  • Woldemicael Amenai

    very expressable, I Love It, Jen

  • deacarvalho

    =”)

  • Ben

    Elle, I don’t know you. All I know is that you’re a human being. That’s enough for me to know you have worth.

    My best friend killed himself four years ago. He thought no one cared enough to make it worth sticking around. It devastated me and so many others.

    If you ever need someone to talk to, day or night, email me at poeticeducator@gmail.com. If I’m awake, I’ll email you back my phone number. Don’t make a permanent decision without talking to someone. There’s always, somehow, hope.

  • Isael Bolaños

    impresionante, muy apropiado para los que esperan mucho y no contemplan nada

  • Justin James Clayden

    I love it!

  • Emar Gomes

    I love this….. <3 My day just got better :)

  • Rahul Malik

    I would like to nominate you for Lifetime Achievement award for Awesomeness kind sire..

  • Pablo Stanley

    Hey Elle,

    I’m really happy to know my comic helped a bit.

    If you allow me to add this… please know that you’re not alone in this, you matter… seriously, you do. Maybe not to the universe, like the comic says, but you’re still important to others. Also… you’re not crazy; what you’re going through is real and tough but there’s always hope :)
    If I could I would give you a big, big hug but I can’t, so please accept this red panda hug pic instead: http://on.vh1.com/19zO9P6

    If shit gets more real and you feel like you can’t keept it anymore and have no one to talk to, please, please send me an email. I’ll be happy to talk to you: pablostanley1 @ gmail .com (with no spaces).

    Take care, Elle!

  • Pablo Stanley

    Hey Julian,
    I was trying to say that he shouldn’t forget about his father… but apparently ‘pop’ is a bit confusing and for some people it might mean ‘grandpa’… so, I changed it to ‘Dad’.
    Thanks for noting that :)

  • Martheen Cahya Paulo
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  • terrycleveland

    Love it

  • Elle

    Been seriously contemplating suicide for a few months now. This made me cry and was a bit of a ray of hope. Thank you.

  • julian_medina

    “Dont forget about Pop” what do you mean? the music?

  • http://dannpainappuru.deviantart.com/ DANN PAINAPPURU (PIÑA)

    jajajaja genial!!!

  • Origami_Isopod

    “Forgiveness” Is overrated. It’s a good way to shut down people seeking justice. And “forgiveness is a gift you give yourself” is utter b.s.

  • Hiram

    Una filosófica y profunda obra de arte. Siempre es un gusto disfrutar de tus comics.

  • Sitanshu Mehrotra

    Thank you for sharing your donut!!! ^_^

  • Paula Andrea

    Gracias por este comic, lo nombro “Mi Favorito”

  • strega2012

    That is both sweet and profound. Thanks for creating it.

  • Javier Olavarrieta

    Siempre me encanta leer tus historias, ¡felicidades por tu excelente trabajo!

  • Franz Cedrick Laza

    This is fantastic. No mere words shall be uttered due to the greatness of this comic. I salute you, Sir Stanley!