“The most trivial and at the same time the most important note in human life is that man has no choice but has to be always doing something to keep himself in existence. Life is given to us; we do not give it to ourselves, rather we find ourselves in it, suddenly and without knowing how. But the life which is given us is not given us ready made; we must make it for ourselves, each one his own. Life is a task. And the weightiest aspect of these tasks in which life consists is not the necessity of performing them but, in a sense, the opposite: I mean that we find ourselves always under the compulsion to do something but never, strictly speaking, under compulsion to do something in particular, that there is not imposed on us this or that task as there is imposed on the star its course or on the stone its gravitation. Each individual before doing anything must decide for himself and at his own risk what he is going to do. But this decision is impossible unless one possesses certain convictions concerning the nature of things around one, the nature of other men, of oneself. Only in light of such convictions can one prefer one act to another, can one, in short, live.”
José Ortega y Gasset, Towards a Philosophy of History (New York: Norton, 1941) in August Pi Suñer, Classics in Biology (New York: Philosophical Library, 1955), 319-20.