Theater of the Absurd

Thinking today about the absurdity of life. What makes a person want to live after all? Is it a hope for the future, that you have something that you must accomplish? And if you accomplish it, what then? A scientist hopes to discover something novel, an engineer hopes to invent something, a doctor hopes to cure someone, and on and on.

The religious viewpoint is much the same. It too involves a hope or possibly even a perceived knowledge of a future state. Christianity, Islam, and Judaism all have a vision of a future state involving bliss, happiness, closeness with God, 7 virgins, eternal riches, blah de blah blah.

This “mechanical life” marches from Monday to Sunday, rinse and repeat ad infinitum. Once we are in the grip of this cycle, we have reached steady state, and call it “living”. But again I ask, why? This is the essence of the absurdity of life. We have essentially invented a reason to go on living, since the alternative is unthinkable and painful.

I recently read an essay by Albert Camus entitled “The Myth of Sisyphus” in which he says

Weariness comes at the end of the acts of a mechanical life, but at the same time it inaugurates
the impulse of consciousness. It awakens consciousness and provokes what follows. What follows is a gradual return into the chain or it is the definitive awakening.

We all want that … the definitive awakening, but are too fearful to stop WTF we are doing to experience that awakening. It is far easier to just keep turning the crank, the path of least resistance. Which brings us to Sisyphus.

According to the Greek myth, Sisyphus is forever doomed to roll a rock to the top of a mountain, only to have it roll back down to the bottom each time he reaches the top, kinda like a shitty golfer stuck in a sand trap. The idea is that there is no worse punishment than to be trapped forever in this futile labor. Once you reach the top, there is great joy, followed by incredible despair.

But wait!! What if, instead we see Sisyphus as a workman that is toiling towards the goal of moving that rock to the top of the mountain. Each step a more joyful victory than the last. At the bottom he has the victorious journey to look forward to, and, at the top, he has the victory of attaining the goal. The struggle itself is enough to fill his heart with joy. One can imagine Sisyphus happy and victorious. The point at which Sisyphus realizes that there is a “joy in the journey” is his “definitive awakening”.

This, I think, is the essence of living in the moment.

On a somewhat related note, I have always wondered how ants feel when some snotty little bastard kicks their ant hill into a giant cloud of dust.